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Docs say IT critical to healthcare reform

Two physician organisations are weighing in on the healthcare piece of the economic stimulus package, calling on the president and Congress to support healthcare information technology, additional funding for primary care training, Medicaid funding for states and comparative effectiveness research. The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians, which represents 126,000 internal medicine physicians, separately called for action on healthcare reform. “The problems are big, so the solutions must also be big,” said Jeffrey P. Harris, MD, president of the ACP. In a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Appropriations, Jim King, MD, the chairman of the AAFP board, said he was gratified to see the large allocations to HIT in the two versions of the stimulus package – USD 20 billion in the House bill and USD 23 billion in the Senate bill. “Physicians should have effective incentives to purchase a wide variety of technology that is appropriate for their particular setting,” said King. He added, “We agree that the Department of Health and Human Services should be allowed latitude to determine what products should be certified. Any funds to support the purchase of certified products should be followed by incentives that align payment with quality and efficiency. This is critical to drive the utilization of the adopted systems.” King said the AAFP strongly supports targeting healthcare IT dollars in the economic stimulus package to physicians who are “meaningfully using HIT.” But he also asked whether physicians who have already purchased information technology systems would be eligible for funding to buy additional software to enhance their practices. “We believe (these physicians) should be eligible to receive funding to upgrade their systems,” King said. King also urged lawmakers to include provisions in the legislation “that represent sound investments in the country’s healthcare system; specifically, funding for the training of primary care physicians,” “Coverage for all and providing better care in a cost-efficient manner requires a health care system that is primary care-based. Consequently, we must train more family physicians to meet this goal,” King said.


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