Health reform may cause agencies to beef up IT, report says

HHS, IRS likely will enhance their IT systems, set up new programs

The new health care reforms will create programs and systems that will generate information technology activity for the Health and Human Services Department, Internal Revenue Service, and state and local governments, according to a new analysis by research firm Input.

Input outlined the activity in a report, “IT Implications of Health Care Reform,” published today.

The reform package expands health insurance coverage to 32 million additional Americans over the next 10 years. It sets up state insurance exchanges, new research and marketing programs, and tax incentives.

”Government contractors will find opportunities to support implementation of the health care reform legislation in the areas of health IT, such as electronic health records, health information exchange, and comparative effectiveness research,” Input officials said in a news release. “In addition, traditional IT vendors should look for other areas of opportunity to emerge, such as upgrades to IRS systems, call center development or expansion, Web portal design and support, and IT solutions to support new or expanded organizations.”

For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will establish a new CMS Innovation Center to test and evaluate solutions and a Coordinated Care Office to manage overlaps between Medicare and Medicaid. CMS will also institute new anti-fraud measures in its systems, develop Web sites, bundle payments, collect new data, develop technical standards for data reporting, and enhance and modernize its IT systems, the report states.

Under the reform laws, the IRS will provide detailed information to consumers on tax aspects of the health law, generating activity such as new Web pages, possible enhancements to track new data, call centers, and staffing and training, the report states.

The IRS is expected to spend $1.65 billion to $2.5 billion on activities related to health care reform over the next 10 years, Input officials said.

State and local agencies will manage insurance exchanges through which consumers can purchase insurance coverage. They are also likely to upgrade systems, set up new consumer offices and create new grant programs.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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