CureMD: How much support have you got in the Congress and what is the expected timeline to pass the act?
Ellmers: We are not in session right now. We will be going back after the elections, which will be after November 12. I am hoping that with discussions being held in Washington and the temporary delay that has already been in place – this (bill) will be put up for vote or at least will be brought up in the committee.
I have my staff in Washington right now, who are keeping track of all the developments and working with the committee. Once we get something out of it, we will be able to let you know.
Only 9% of hospitals and only 1% of physician practices in the country will be able to report favorably and up-to-date with the Meaningful Use mandate.
CureMD: In case the bill does not go through then what will be your strategy? What’s the contingency plan?
Ellmers: It will be devastating to physician practices and hospitals. The Meaningful Use program will be affecting so many practices from January 1st. When I give the statistics of who is up-to-date with Meaningful Use Stage 2, people are astounded that only 9% of hospitals and only 1% of physician practices in the country will be able to report favorably and up-to-date with the Meaningful Use mandate. This makes them realize that this is not going to work.
I am very hopeful that we will be able to move this bill forward and I will be actively working on that. If the bill’s not moved forward, then the frequency of reimbursements for both hospitals and physicians will be devastating.
CureMD: Health IT adoption has been field by the incentive program. Do you think that has improved the clinical outcomes as anticipated? If not, why?
Ellmers: I am hopeful that incentives are going to move in the right direction, but at this point, it is too early to know whether the changes are improving healthcare and quality of outcomes for patients. However, I fear that essentially hospitals will try to work around the mandate that has been put in place.
So, we are not truly increasing quality of care, but we are making it appear that way. And that’s my fear. I want to see improvement in quality of care. I want more productive outcomes for patients. But I think it’s going to take a long time to achieve that goal.
We are not truly increasing quality of care, but we are making it appear that way.
CureMD: So you think it’s not there now, but it’s getting there?
Ellmers: Yeah. And part of the reason is the hurdles that hospitals and physicians have to deal with. I believe that in a better economy and healthcare system where we don’t have to deal with so many mandates – especially the Affordable Care Act and the pending reimbursement for Medicare – I think physicians will be able to make all those choices, but it will take time.
CureMD: With respect to the point you made about Affordable Care Act, do you think that has been achieved or on its way to achieve the purpose?
Ellmers: I don’t think it’s been achieved yet. Especially, when I talk with physicians and physician owned practices, I realize they have to deal with so much and this is hampering quality of care right now. My hope is, once we are able to get on a plain field, we will be able to introduce some reforms in the Affordable Care Act to bring some improvement. As of now, there is much room for improvement.
CureMD: Is the Flex-IT Act a way forward to improve healthcare and bring reforms in the law?
Ellmers: I believe we need to put some reforms in place and I am hoping that it would be something that we can achieve in the new Congress. This will help every American in this country with their healthcare cause, and thereby, help physician practices and hospitals as well. Personally, I would like to see complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act with patient-centered, quality care reforms that will be much more meaningful and effective in the future.
I would like to see a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act with patient-centered, quality care reforms that will be much more meaningful and effective in the future.
CureMD: As a former nurse, small business owner, mother and member of Congress, do you think that future of healthcare system is moving at a snail’s pace?
Ellmers: I would love to see legislation move much faster. I would like to put forward strong effort that we have made in the past and I believe we will be able to get much more done in the new Congress. When it comes to healthcare in this country, having a background in nursing, I want solutions; I want to fix this problem. So, things do move a little slower in Washington than I care for.
Every day we get to hear horror stories of the Affordable Care Act and we hear about continued pressure on our physicians when it comes to pending reimbursement cuts. If we can put forward meaningful solutions and reforms, and give certainty to healthcare community, we will achieve the quality of care that has been known in the past and make it more affordable for every family.
CureMD: You are the Chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. From that perspective you are working on a solution to eradicate challenges faced by healthcare community and the industry as whole. Why?
Ellmers: Women are healthcare providers, care givers and also recipients of healthcare, especially in later years of their lives. There is a connection between healthcare and empowering women in this country.