Tech leaders weigh in on ACA repeal, Price nomination

Tom Price speaks at hearing
Physician and tech leaders say HHS nominee Tom Price could restructure EHR regulations, and an ACA repeal could have "trickle-down" implications for IT.

Although many of the leading health IT organizations have refrained from wading into the political waters of an Affordable Care Act repeal, some see it as an opportunity to restructure federal requirements regarding EHRs and divert additional focus toward interoperability.

Almost immediately after being sworn in as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order designed to pave the way for an ACA repeal. Although health IT associations generally view the potential repeal as an issue more relevant to payer and provider communities, changes to the law could have “trickle-down implications” for the industry, Leslie Krigstein, vice president of congressional affairs for the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) told Health Data Management.

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IT and physician leaders are emboldened by the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, M.D., R-Ga., for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, although doctors have been divided over his appointment.

During last week’s confirmation hearings, Price argued that federal EHR requirements have turned physicians into “data entry clerks.” His comments could pave the way to less restrictive EHR regulations, which some say have played a role in physician burnout.

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“We in the physician community are hopeful that we’ll have a very sympathetic ear when we go and talk to HHS about trying to restructure some of these federal requirements,” Robert Tennant, director of health IT policy at the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), told Health Data Management.

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However, Price did say that the government should take a role in ensuring interoperability of patient records. With the 21st Century Cures Act sinking more funding into interoperability, Tennant said Price is likely to apply his own physician-friendly view to the rollout of the new law, while Krigstein said the Cures Act gives the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT "more leverage."