Stimulus provisions may affect future of AHIC successor

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon

The National eHealth Collaborative, formerly known as the American Health Information Community (AHIC) Successor, may have been legislated out of existence with the passage of healthcare IT provisions in the recent economic stimulus bill.

The Collaborative has operated on seed money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since the Bush administration spun it off as a private, nonprofit organization, whose goal has been to carry out the healthcare IT coordination and advisory duties that had been the province of the AHIC--the HHS advisory committee that was disbanded last year--according to a report published in Government Health IT.

With the passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus law, two official HHS advisory committees, whose roles overlap with the National eHealth Collaborative's mission, have been created. The Health IT Standards Committee will recommend technical standards, specifications and certification criteria. The Health IT Policy Committee will recommend policies for development and adoption of interoperable EHRs and health information exchange.

Many of the decisions in the healthcare IT portions of the stimulus law must be made by the HHS secretary, who will determine how to spend the $2 billion allotted for grants, loans and other assistance for healthcare IT, according to Robert Kolodner, MD, the national coordinator for Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT).

Also, the National eHealth Collaborative can change its membership, charter, duties and other characteristics to conform with the description of the policy or standards committees and, with the approval of the new HHS secretary, become one of the new committees, according to Government Health IT.

However, making such a change would be difficult for the new organization, which just admitted its first 10 dues-paying members to its ranks. Additionally, the Obama administration has not yet named a new HHS secretary since former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his name.

The law leaves the composition of the standards committee to ONCHIT, which could choose to leave the Collaborative's leadership intact, or it could become the standards committee, reported Government Health IT.