The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

This blog was created to provide a forum for talking about innovative and interesting topics related to the direction our healthcare system is taking. Before the first post, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), on February 17th, 2009.

The ARRA includes appropriations for a wide variety of health initiatives and will inevitably change the landscape of our healthcare system. Appropriations include those for: biomedical research, public health, and other health-related programs within the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as authorizing language to promote health information technology and establish a federal advisory panel to coordinate comparative effectiveness research.

The ARRA contains over $20 billion for the development of an IT infrastructure and to help providers adopt health information technologies. This is the largest single investment in our healthcare system of all time. It is for this reason that I’d like to devote some time to this topic. This has the potential to be a true “game changer”. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that as many as 90% of doctors and 70% of hospitals will be using comprehensive health records as a result of the ARRA, which is a significant improvement over estimates in absence of this funding.

HIMSS provides a good summary of Health IT appropriations in the ARRA:

  • $2 billion for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC)
  • $17.2 billion in incentives through the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement systems to assist providers in adopting EHRs
  • $4.7 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
  • $2.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program
  • $1.5 billion for construction, renovation, and equipment for health centers through the Health Resources and Services Administration
  • $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • $85 million for health IT, including telehealth services, within the Indian Health Service
  • $500 million for the Social Security Administration
  • $50 million for information technology within the Veterans Benefits Administration

In future posts, I’d like to explore the potential short and long term impacts on healthcare providers.

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