The proverbial tortoise that is health care reform finally took a step last month.
The House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system. Senate majority leader Harry Reid brought major health care legislation to the floor and he said he wants to complete work on the bill before Christmas, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, other Democratic leaders said it was unlikely that a bill could reach President Obama‘s desk by year’s end.
Here’s what’s certain:
- The House vote was a significant first step toward reform, whatever form it may take.
- It’s unlikely the House bill looks anything like what we will ultimately end up with.
- There’s still a lot of drama left to unfold and many steps to take before this journey is over.
- Regardless of the details of a final Health Care Reform Bill, the impact on health information technology and opportunities for such will be significant.
Health IT has been a key driver in the reform movement since Day One. Regardless of if or when a bill passes through all the necessary hoops, states have to address several issues using health IT as a tool, including insurance eligibility and enrollment, fraud and abuse, predictive modeling, management of those with chronic disease and, possibly, rate-setting.
There is no doubt that the more sophisticated our technological tools become and the better access we have to those tools, the more effective as a nation and as states we can be in identifying opportunities to ensure that every health care dollar is spent for high quality, cost-effective care. However, we can expect arguments to intensify over privacy concerns in the coming weeks and, perhaps, months. But they must be mitigated and addressed to allow health IT to move forward and offer its crucial benefits to the health care industry.