The health care IT section of the stimulus bill working its way through Congress looks pretty weak. The $20 billion number is big enough but unfortunately the timing and structure don’t make a great deal of sense.
Of the $20 billion, $18 billion is deferred until 2011, when it will start being offered as incentives to physicians who are already using EHRs. In other words, physicians have to invest their own money –and do so within the next few months– in order to be ready to start claiming the funds. It doesn’t strike me as realistic and it’s certainly not a near-term stimulus. It’s actually more like an unfunded mandate since it’s likely the availability of the $18B in 2011 on out will let Medicare and Medicaid pay lower rates than they otherwise would.
As Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative Micky Tripathi points out in his well-reasoned post, this is not a formula for success.