Barack Obama doesn’t take office for nearly four more weeks, but already we’re seeing some pushback against his campaign proposal to ask for $50 billion over five years for health IT.
The federal checkbook, er, money-printing machine, has been busy of late. If the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts have shown anything so far, it’s that a billion dollars just ain’t what it used to be. There are some who are making the case that throwing more money at the healthcare problem might not be the wisest move.
Notably, Bill Yasnoff, M.D., Ph.D., had an op-ed published at BusinessWeek Online last Friday, in which he says electronic medical records must be part of any economic stimulus plan Obama introduces in 2009. Yasnoff pushes for his brainchild, the “health record bank” and calls for greater privacy protection than HIPAA currently affords.
The last point is not surprising, considering Yasnoff is allied with privacy guru Deborah Peel, M.D. For her part, Peel, founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week complaining of the lack of regulation in recent health IT policy as well as accountability problems with the financial industry’s bailout.
Both Yasnoff and Peel suggest that any funding for health IT must include accountability measures and provisions to ensure sustainability.
C. Peter Waegemann, CEO of the Medical Records Institute also argues against simply throwing money at the problem. In an “HIT Status Report”, posted Dec. 9, cautions that nobody has yet proved that EMRs alone can save money.
“Cost savings can be achieved through a restructuring of healthcare, and EMRs may well be tools in the restructuring process, but they should not be perceived as the main tool or goal and we should not have such unrealistic expectations of them,” Waegemann writes. He also contends that recent federal efforts to promote health IT have failed.
Over at The Health Care Blog, Rick Peters, M.D., argues that the health IT industry is similar to the auto industry of the 1970s, and thus not suitable for a government “bailout.”
And from the Department of Negativity at Any Cost, the Cato Institute‘s Michael Cannon has a blog post entitled, “Blocking Obama’s Health Plan Is Key to the GOP’s Survival.” If so, we’re in for several more years of politics as usual.