May 16, 2009

Recession helped healthcare trade group

The recession enabled a trade group to win inclusion of billions of dollars in stimulus money for a U.S. network of electronic health records, observers said.

The group, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, had worked for a decade to win over Washington lawmakers, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

As the recession worsened last year, the trade group persuaded advisers to then President-elect Barack Obama to consider electronic records legislation that had stalled in Congress, said H. Stephen Lieber, the trade group's president.

It was perhaps a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make something happen, Lieber said. Obama identified the vehicle that he could use to move his policy agenda forward without the crippling policy debate.

Obama's $787 billion stimulus package includes as much as $36.5 billion for a nationwide network of electronic health records, a key step in Obama's plan to reform the U.S. healthcare system, the Post reported.

Because of the stimulus money, the trade group's members stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars, the Post said.