Wednesday, April 14, 2010

States Initiating Actions

The Governor of Maine has signed an Executive Order establishing the Office of the State Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The Executive Order also establishes a Health Information Steering Committee with subcommittees to advise the Coordinator on specific areas of HIT implementation.

The Office of the State Coordinator for HIT will:

• Serve as a clearinghouse for all state HIT policy
• Align HIT planning efforts with the State Health Plan
• Coordinate ARRA HIT/HIE planning and implementation and provide for financial and regulatory oversight of HIT and HIE efforts
• Disseminate public information about HIT and HIE through partnerships with stakeholders
• Work collaboratively with HealthInfoNet, the state’s designated health information exchange that has just been awarded $4.7 million in Recovery Act funds.

In the state of Washington, Governor Chris Gregoire is taking steps to get the state ready to implement healthcare reform as components of the law are beginning to take effect. The Governor signed an Executive Order creating a Health Care Cabinet to implement healthcare reform in the state.

The Executive Order directs the Health Care Cabinet to integrate existing prevention and wellness strategies into all reform efforts. The law increases federal investment in public health programs for prevention, wellness, and monitoring and tracking of disease outbreaks.

The Health Care Cabinet will work to attract and retain enough nurses and healthcare staff to meet the growing under the new legislation. The plan is to invest more in training programs, more scholarships for healthcare workers, and improve the diversity of the workforce.

To jumpstart the Health Care Cabinet, Doug Porter has been appointed as the new Administrator for the Health Care Authority. Currently he is Medicaid Director and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services’ Health and Recovery Services Administration.

In his role as the new administrator for the Health Care Authority, he will assume primary responsibility for building and operating a unified purchasing system for publicly funded health services for the state. By combining the purchasing power of Medicaid and the Health Care Authority, greater control will be yielded over costs and the result will streamline the state’s ability to implement healthcare reform.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order to create the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council. The Council will advise the administration on policies and procedures needed to implement the recent and future federal healthcare reform legislation. A preliminary report on the Council’s activities and findings are due July 2010 with a more complete report due in 2011.