Economic Stimulus Package Passes House, Senate

Late last week, the U.S. House and Senate approved the long-debated $787 billion economic stimulus package. Included in the final legislation, which is to be signed by President Obama this week, are the following items of interest to the chiropractic profession:

• As a direct result of lobbying by the ACA-led PARCA coalition, non-MD/DOs will be eligible for a federal incentive program aimed at the establishment of electronic health record systems (EHRs). Under the new program, due to begin in 2011, physicians – including DCs – will be eligible for incentive payments totaling more than $40,000 for meeting EHR standards developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, the bill contains a plan to establish penalties for not adopting the standards, which would be due to start in 2016. The entire program is funded at $19 billion. • The stimulus package provides money for a Prevention and Wellness Initiative ($1 billion). Once the program details are announced, ACA will be certain to lobby aggressively to ensure chiropractic inclusion. • An allocated $1.1 billion would establish a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which would assist the offices and agencies of the federal government—including the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense—to coordinate comparative effectiveness and related health services research. Increased funding in this area could help the chiropractic profession become more involved in the health care reform process. • Also included, new funding totaling $86.6 billion over 27 months to bolster Medicaid, which has been impacted as states handle budget shortfalls and as the newly unemployed come under Medicaid coverage. Similarly, there will be $24.7 billion spent to pay 65 percent of the premium costs for laid-off workers (over nine months) who want to continue their job-based coverage under COBRA. Now that both chambers of Congress have approved the legislation, it goes on to the White House for President Obama’s signature. According to White House officials, President Obama will sign the $787 billion economic stimulus plan in Denver on Tuesday, Feb. 17.


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