Eight years of bipartisan progress for health IT

Diana Manos

With so much of America's healthcare future on the line after the election  - partisan budget battles looming and talk of either moving forward with Obamacare or starting over under President Romney (depending what has happened at the ballot box by the time you read this)  -  one thing has stayed relatively stable over the past eight years, and hopefully will continue to: the bipartisan advancement of healthcare IT.

The first major step came in 2004, when President George W. Bush called for the widespread adoption of electronic health records within 10 years, doubling funding to $100 million for federal demonstration projects on healthcare IT, and creating a new sub-Cabinet position, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, by executive order.

In 2006, Bush kept things going by calling for $169 million in funding for healthcare IT initiatives as part of his fiscal year 2007 budget request for the Departments of Health and Human Services. The number represented a slight increase from previous requests of $125 million for healthcare IT activities. President Bush's FY2007 budget proposal also provided $116 million for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

In January 2009, President-elect Barack Obama outlined his plans for an economic recovery package that included a pledge for $10 billion a year over five years to promote healthcare IT adoption. Though Obama didn't get the $50 billion he called for, he did get $19 billion to spark EHR adoption, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed later that year. Like Bush, Obama also called for EHRs for every American by 2014.

President Obama's 2010 fiscal year federal budget proposal called for $635 billion over 10 years as a "down payment" toward health reform, including money for health IT. 

Both parties' presidential platforms supported health IT in this year's election season, though it took a relative backseat to other issues. Republican candidate Mitt Romney listed healthcare IT as an important aspect of healthcare reform. President Obama, meanwhile, banked his entire healthcare reform on the use of health IT. 

With the pitched budget battles that lie ahead here's hoping that the nearly decade's worth of American investment in healthcare IT will retain favor  -  no matter who's won the election by press time.