HIEs, health technology among state lawmakers' 2012 priorities

Healthcare technology is well-represented in a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) roundup of the top issues that will dominate the legislative agenda in 2012, including the task of establishing state and regional health information exchanges (HIE).

Although states are not exactly "rolling in the dough," the report notes, an improving economy will allow lawmakers to focus on more than just budgets in the early days of their sessions, although budget won't be a non-issue the rest of the year. "Money is the starting and stopping point for virtually every state program and service," the report notes. "This year will be no exception and the budget will still dominate the agenda for most states in 2012, especially with the uncertainty of the how federal deficit reductions will affect fiscal year 2013 state budgets."

Regardless, states are working to improve financial stability with a number of programs, such as job creation initiatives (which include training programs for health IT workers) and investments in health technology, according to the report.

In the healthcare reform realm, establishing HIEs and electronic health records will remain a dominant issue for legislative sessions.

"One focus for state legislatures in 2012 will be how to move healthcare providers, especially those participating in the Medicaid program, toward the adoption of certified electronic health records [EHRs]," the report notes. "EHRs, once fully implemented, are expected to provide doctors and health professionals with easier access to patient histories and data, resulting in cost-savings and better health outcomes by removing costly errors and duplications in services."

The report continues: "In addition, states are responsible for building and implementing [HIEs] where those EHRs can be accessed by healthcare providers...By mid-year 2012, every state should have Medicaid EHR Incentive programs in place and will be working toward building an HIE by late 2014 or early 2015 as required by deadlines attached to federal cooperative agreements."

For more information:
- read the NCSL roundup

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