The economic stimulus bill that became law last week includes several items on SHM's healthcare policy wish list.
"It clearly hits some key issues," Eric Siegal, MD, chair of SHM's Public Policy Committee, says in regard to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "This is a step in the right direction."
The $787 billion stimulus package includes:
- $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research (CER). Funding for CER is one of SHM's top policy priorities, says Laura Allendorf, SHM's senior advisor for advocacy and government affairs. CER examines the effectiveness of multiple therapies for specific medical conditions, or for a specific set of patients, to determine the best care options. "Funding for this is long overdue and key to healthcare reform," Dr. Siegal says. CER money will be split among the major players in this research, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
- A 34% increase in NIH funding. This includes $8.5 billion for research grants and programs that will allow for as many as 15,000 additional grants. "We know that an investment in biomedical research is an investment in the future of healthcare," says David Meltzer, MD, PhD, chair of SHM's Research Committee.
- $19 billion for health information technology. Incentives—and penalties—will target adoption of electronic health records by hospitals and office-based practices. "This will help improve patient safety, as well as care coordination," Allendorf says.
Other healthcare provisions in the package include an additional $86.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds, as well as temporary Medicaid coverage for the recently unemployed.
To keep up with public policy initiatives, check out SHM's advocacy portal.