If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional, more than the law's individual mandate will be repealed. It would also hamper health information technology efforts, including incentives for providers to use EHRs.
That's one of the conclusions reached by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in a report on ACA's impact on health reform, created for the Senate Committee of Health Education Labor and Pensions.
Although the HITECH Act established the EHR incentive program, the ACA includes several provisions directly related to advancing HITECH's Meaningful Use goal by incorporating more sophisticated uses of health IT as a requirement or central component. These provisions include the Medicare Shared Savings program establishing accountable care organizations, the Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program and the quality reporting obligations imposed on cancer hospitals and other facilities, according to the report.
"The ACA's payment reforms, pilot projects and other delivery system reforms are built with the expectation of having IT-enabled providers. In particular, the shift to new models of care, like ACOs, will rely heavily on information exchange and reporting quality outcomes. Indeed, the formation of ACOs is contingent on having providers 'online' to transfer information and patient records, and report quality measures," Whitehouse says.
The report expresses concern that a total repeal of the law will impede increased efficiencies, improved care and lower costs anticipated from these programs and other reforms in the ACA and recommends that Congress support the law.
In related news, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society released an ACA fact sheet that describes some of the repercussions to a number of national HIT programs should healthcare reform fall.