Post-Election Analysis: What to Expect During the Lame Duck Session

We survived the election of 2016.

It has been a truly unprecedented election season, heavy on political theatrics and seemingly light on policy and substance. However, now that the new administration and Congress have been elected, we finally have an opportunity catch our collective breaths and look to the future.

While the dust settles, here’s what the industry can expect to see, or not see, on the legislative agenda between now and the end of the year: 

Hope remains that Cures legislation will cross the finish line. Following passage of  the 21st Century Cures Act in the House last summer, Senate leadership has indicated a commitment to vote on a negotiated version of the bill during the lame-duck session, after which it would go back to the House before reaching the President’s desk. However, as with any large legislative package, final negotiations around pay-fors and policy can present significant challenges.

We at HIMSS are generally supportive of Senate version of the legislation, with great interest in improving interoperability, advancements in biomedical research and a limited approach to regulating health IT that avoids unnecessary red tape while ensuring patient safety. 

A new government funding bill will be passed. The Current FY17 Continuing Resolution runs out Dec 9 and a new bill to fund the government, including agencies with critical health IT portfolios such as AHRQ and ONC, is considered “must pass” legislation.  Congress will likely pass another short-term Continuing Resolution that will extend current funding levels into the early months of the new Congress/Administration.

The Chronic Care Act sets stage for action on telehealth. This new draft legislation – which contains several HIMSS-supported telehealth provisions also included in the CONNECT for Health Act, promotes advancements in telehealth and Medicare reimbursement for providers who utilize telehealth services.  Release of the much anticipated Senate Finance Committee draft is a good sign that Congress is ready to take action on meaningful telehealth reforms, although likely not until the new year.

Over the next few weeks and months, as we learn more about the new Congress and President-elect Trump’spolicy agenda in the early days of his administration, we’ll continue to provide analysis and projections around what to expect in both the short and long term. In the meantime, it is our mission to help ensure that President-elect Trump and our newly elected federal and state officials comprehend and embrace the power and potential of health IT to drive innovation in care delivery and, most importantly, better health outcomes for patients.

Don’t forget: On Tuesday, Nov 15, 1 PM CT, there is a HIMSS webinar on the election outcomes. Register here

HIMSS; health IT; public policy