Tech stimulus: $20b for health care records

Tech stimulus: $20b for health care records

Summary: The White House Stimulus Package contains $37 billion in funding for technology inititatives -- mostly to digitize health records but also for rural broadband and to upgrade the grid.


That $825 billion stimulus package contains a mere $37 billion for tech in three main areas: $20 billion to computerize medical records, $11 billion to create smarter electrical grids and $6 billion to expand high-speed Internet access in rural and underserved communities, The New York Times reports. The tech requests could result in 900,000 jobs in 2009, according to a study produced for the transition team by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“The appeal of these kinds of investments is that you not only get the stimulative effect but also build a platform for productivity gains and long-term growth,” said Blair Levin, a former senior official at the Federal Communications Commission who was a technology policy adviser on the Obama transition team.

You'll notice that these three areas don't really scream out, "Silicon Valley." Indeed, aside from the scientific/engineering design work at the top, these jobs are pretty much spread out around the country.

“There is a huge implementation phase to the adoption and use of these kinds of technologies locally,” said John Irons, an economist and research director at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “The jobs involved do tend to span the spectrum of skills and income levels. And they are not going to be outsourced offshore.”

The investment in health records may be a wedge towards health industry reform as well as an important infrastructure improvement.

“Paying to put computer hardware and software in physicians’ offices isn’t going to do anything unless you change the incentives in the system,” said Dr. David J. Brailer, former national health information technology coordinator in the Bush administration.

Those incentives could change rapidly. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced HR 676 for universal health care.

All individuals residing in the United States (including any territory of the United States) are covered under the USNHI Program entitling them to a universal, best quality standard of care. Each such individual shall receive a card with a unique number in the mail. An individual's social security number shall not be used for purposes of registration under this section.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Enterprise Software, Health, Software

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  • We already have universal healthcare

    That's where the uninsured go to the emergency room (where no one can be turned away, by law) instead of a clinic or doctor. Very expensive resources are used to treat everyday symptoms.

    They don't pay and the government doesn't pay, so the hospitals pad the bills of everyone who does pay, because we have insurance.

    The insurance companies are complicit in this scheme, although preventive care and universal access to inexpensive clinical resources (not the ER for a sniffle) would help save the system billions every month.

    This new idea for universal health-care is just a sneaky way to have everything paid for above-board, instead of under the table, with padded bills and such. This might actually enable us to track the real expenditures and know what we're actually getting for our money. Genius!
    • Genius?

      I think not. While I do not argue with you that the ERs serve as "universal health care" for a lot of folks, I think we're heading into dangerous territory if we go to real UHC. Adding millions of people into the current Health Care system but not adding any more doctors and nurses, health-care rationing will not be far away.

      Why do you think Canadians and other folks from around the world come to the U.S. for medical treatment? Because we have the best health care system in the world.
      • illogical

        If you agree that the uninsured are already overtaxing our ERs, how can you argue that allowing (even forcing) them to seek HC more efficiently will lead to rationing.

        Also, with so many jobs being lost in other sectors, don't your believe a growing need for HC will offer job security that will entice many more students to consider HC careers?

        The way things are today and will likely continue for years, I believe job security will be a much greater incentive than hopes for a more lucrative, but riskier, income in some other endeavor.

        I believe it's just that kind of trade-off that Obama means when he says we all need to have some skin in the game. Like it or not, India's and China's economies will dwarf the U.S. economy in the not so distant future.

        If Americans don't get used to forgoing some of their wealth, prestige and frivolous luxuries for stability soon, we are doomed to repeat the history of the Roman empire.
        • Roman history

          For a very good video regarding forms of government, including a little on the demise of the Roman Empire, may I suggest that you go to the following:

          Sadly, I believe that our new administration is taking us down the same road the Romans travelled, and anything that makes government bigger is just the catalyst to making it reality.

        • Are you kidding me?

          I don't have to argue about health-care rationing; all I have to do is read first-hand accounts and hear stories from people who live in countries with socialized medicine. I heard one woman the other day, talking about how glad she was she started asking her doc about hormone replacement, and she was so glad she had. Although the subject was not about Universal Health Care, it really didn't need to be. The woman was happy she had made the conversation happen, and told the show host that she finally made the appointment and was going to see her gynecologist. However the first appointment available was in MARCH 2009!!! Oh, did I mention this woman lives in Canada? Yeah, I can guarantee you that if I need to see my gynecologist, I could get in next week or tomorrow if necessary.

          The job security you speak of is with government job, and that's a scary thought. Since when has the government done anything well? As far as rationing health care goes, in the U.K. if there are two transplant recipients but only one organ, it always goes to the youngest and/or healthiest recipient. I would NOT want to be the doctor who had to make that decision as to who lives or who dies.

          And as far as your comment about foregoing wealth? My "wealth" is not "wealth;" it's what I've EARNED with my HARD WORK! Nobody should get to take what I earn to give it to someone else who hasn't. Frivolous luxuries? If you've earned your paycheck, do you really want the government to tell you what you can and can't buy?

          Your thought process is frightening, and I hope you're in the minority. I fear, however, that you are not. Change is coming allright, but not the kind of change I believe in!
          • Health Care Rationing is already happening here...

   states where the system has been pseudo-
            socialized, like Oregon. For example, in Oregon
            the state his happy to deny older citizens life-
            saving treatment and instead recommend "assisted


            This is our future folks.
      • Talking points

        Nice recitation of right-wing, ideologically-based talking points.

        So your first paragraph posits, basically, that we can't be "Adding millions of people into the current Health Care system". OK... Then what do those people do? You're basically saying that some people deserve health care and others (tens of millions of others) don't. Which boils down to, largely, poor people not deserving health care. Nice society.

        Second easy critique of your first paragraph is that you don't say, oh, there will be too many people to service with the current number of doctors of nurses so THAT'S why you do nothing, you simply ADD MORE DOCTORS AND NURSES.

        And your second paragraph, the most blinders-wearing talking point of all (although it is related to one of the observations about the first paragraph). The only people "from around the world" who "come to the U.S. for medical treatment" are RICH PEOPLE. Come on now, think about it instead of just throwing out a talking point. You live in, oh, say, WheresThisAStan. You need a complex operation (obviously you're not going to travel to the United States for some cough medicine, are you?). Add up all the travel costs AND the cost of a complex operation AND the costs involved in staying in the United States for weeks at least (during recovery), what do you get? Several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Out of your own pocket.

        Sure, peasants from Bolivia are coming to the U.S. for medical treatment. Sheesh.

        One. More. Time. The U.S. has the best MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY and doctors in the world. Fabulously rich people in the world may come to the United States for that medical technology and doctor talent, if they are incredibly wealthy and can pay out of pocket for it. We do NOT have the best health care SYSTEM in the world, from the standpoint of 99% of our population.
        • You call them talking points...

          ... I call them fact. I never said I wanted to deny anybody healthcare; that's not my point.

          Just how do you suppose we just simply "add more doctors and nurses?" Wave a magic wand? Who's going to pay for the schooling? And if we get this magic pill of UHC, that would start almost immediately, but medical training lasts at least 15 years - 8 in school, and several more in residency.

          Perhaps maybe peasants from Bolivia aren't coming to the U.S. for healthcare, but Princes, Kings, Monarchs, Ministers of Parliament are. That even makes my point more clear. If these people who can afford anything in the world, choose the American health care system, what does that tell you?

          Is what you want total income parity and free everything from government? How about checking out Cuba, where EVERYBODY makes $23 a month. Doctors, dancers, waitresses, teachers, etc., all make the same. But do you see people crossing over into Cuba to make their way towards a wonderful life? No, you don't.

          You can judge the quality of a country by the number of people wanting to get in as opposed to the number of people trying to get out.
    • True enough about the "hidden cost". But... the history of mankind, since when has any
      government been honest in its accounting?

      No. In reality, UHC is really a scheme to
      enslave the middle class to the political class.
      Once established, it will be a monster that will
      only grow and will never be touched, much as
      Social Security and Medicare have become.
      • haven't you been listening?

        Social Security and Medicare are about to be "touched". Obama is already showing by his early actions that there are no "sacred cows" when it comes to seeking reform and stabilizing our economy.
        • Yes, Obama is going to "touch" them...

 turning Social Security into just another
          means-tested welfare program. This is exactly
          what those who proposed this ponzi scheme 70
          years ago swore that it would not become, yet
          inevitable would become.

          In other words, that 15% that's taken out of
          your paycheck basically will become a "welfare"
          tax that if you're lucky, you'll never get back.
          So much for the fraud of the "lock box" the
          Democrats have been swearing by for the last 25
          years or so.
  • RE: Tech stimulus: $20b for health care records

    Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced HR 676 for universal health care: "All individuals residing in the United States (including any territory of the United States) are covered under the USNHI Program entitling them to a universal, best quality standard of care. Each such individual shall receive a card with a unique number in the mail. An individual?s social security number shall not be used for purposes of registration under this section."

    I'm an individual residing in the United states - born, raised, and living in Connecticut. "The USNHI Program entitling me to a universal, best quality standard of care" sounds great.
    "Each such individual shall receive a card with a unique number in the mail" also sounds great - where's my card?
    • Wake up

      "The USNHI Program entitling me to a universal, best quality standard of care"

      Doesn't that sound a little bit too good to be true? If it doesn't, it should. And if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Don't count on it. What has the government done well for us before? Social Security? FAIL. Medicare? FAIL. Public schools? EPIC FAIL! Now you want the same morons to be responsible for taking care of our health?

      Have you lost your mind?
      • hyperbole

        I doubt that those who have depended upon their SS payments to date consider it a failure and it is not projected to fail for decades at least, even as it exists. However, the Obama administration is already committed to reform in that area.

        Also, it's the same government that gave us the opportunity & tax incentive to supplement SS via 401K/403B/457b, IRA and SEP retirement vehicles.

        Those who are alive today thanks to Medicare might differ with your assessment. Medicare Fraud is where there has been a failure on the part of Justice and Law Enforcement, but that's where Obama intends to find the savings from existing programs that don't work.

        Lately, many of our public schools have been failing, especially in impoverished districts, but America's greatness through the middle of the last century was in large part due to the founding fathers' commitment to public eduction. Does it need to be fixed, yes!

        Your so-called "morons" would not become the doctors, nurses and researchers. UHC is merely a funding mechanism. It should really be called Universal Health Insurance.
        • Duh. Of course those who are collecting today don't see it as a failure.

          But nearly everybody under 50 are sure going to
          be disappointed when their taxes go up and their
          promised benefits disappear. There will soon be
          less than 2 workers supporting each retiree
          collecting benefits. Within the next decade,
          FICA benefits will exceed the taxes collected.
          The government will have to both raise taxes and
          ration benefits to keep this ponzi scheme from

          Personally, I think that anybody who is
          depending upon social security as any relevant
          part of the retirement planning is either
          ignorant, stupid, or just plain irresponsible.

          Oh, and Madoff's clients didn't see anything as
          a problem until they checks stopped coming
        • You should be a stand-up comedian

          ...because I truly laughed out loud when I read this comment of yours. Pure comedy gold.
          • Unfortunately...

            ...those who believe this guy won't be laughing
            when they wish to retire and the government will
            be unable/unwilling to provide the benefits
            promised, and whatever wealth they managed to
            save and invest will have been taxed or inflated
      • Well, Ms. Ms., I disagree

        The government failures you tick off aren't all failures. I'm willing to grant that schools are a mess, but Social Security? Hasn't failed yet. Medicare? Keeps on working. These are both vital programs that save your elders from poverty and misery; just ask yourself what you personally would be doing about it in the absence of government. Big bills are in the future for both programs, but that's demographics at fault, not government.

        Your rhetorical question, "you want the same morons to be responsible for taking care of our health?" refers to government, I suppose. You're aware that we have the highest percentage of national wealth dedicated to health care of all the developed countries, and that we get less for it? The morons responsible for our current inefficient, ineffective system are the insurance companies and the entities who pay them. Think about that.

        If we weren't importing high-value foreign workers, who are at the peak of their earning years and pay taxes to our government, we'd have more trouble bearing the cost. There's a little more to chew on.
        • very valid points

          I had meant to point out the population effects of the baby boomers on both SS and Medicare.

          SS was created long before the baby boom. Medicare wouldn't be in such bad shape if it weren't for the fraud.

          Hopefully, when Medicare and Medicaid are rolled into a Universal Health Insurance plan, there will be much stronger safeguards against fraud, based upon lessons learned from Medicare.
        • Keeps on working? What planet are you on?

          They only "keep on working" because the
          government keeps borrowing money from the future
          to keep them so. Now that they can't borrow
          money anymore, they're going to start printing

          At some point, this will not work anymore. In
          fact, it's not in case you haven't noticed.
          They can't keep raising taxes to pay for this
          forever. Sooner or later, people won't bother
          to work. And you can't print money forever,
          because sooner or later it will become

          There's a little more to chew on.