Obama Dedicates $88M More for Health IT

As part of the new Recovery Act funding, President Obama pushes health information technology systems for community health care centers.

President Obama is seeding the health care industry with another $88 million in funding for health care centers to adopt new health information technology systems to manage their administrative and financial matters and transfer old paper files to electronic medical records. The initiative is part of $600 million in stimulus money that will go toward improving community health centers across the country.

"These investments won't just increase efficiency and lower costs, they'll improve the quality of care as well -- preventing countless medical errors, and allowing providers to spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients," Obama said Dec. 9.

The new Recovery Act funds are the latest in a series of grants awarded to community health centers, which deliver preventive and primary care services at more than 7,500 service delivery sites around the country to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Health centers serve more than 17 million patients, about 40 percent of whom have no health insurance.

Both programs will be administered by the HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration), an agency of the HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

Obama also directed the HHS to implement a demonstration program designed to evaluate the impact of the advanced primary care practice model on access, quality and cost of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries served by community health centers.

This model, known as the "medical home," promotes accessible, continuous and coordinated family-centered care. Developed and administered by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), the demonstration will last three years. CMS anticipates that up to 500 health centers will participate.

According to a Dec. 8 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, the market for personalized medicine in the United States is already $232 billion, and it is projected to grow 11 percent annually.The personalized medical care portion of the market -- including telemedicine, health information technology and disease management services offered by traditional health and technology companies -- is estimated at $4 billion to $12 billion and could grow tenfold to more than $100 billion by 2015 if telemedicine takes off.

"These three initiatives -- funding for construction, technology and a medical home demonstration -- they won't just save money over the long term and create more jobs, they're also going to give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it," Obama said. "And ultimately, that's what health insurance reform is really about."