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Surprising Science

Electronic Incentives

A federal program incentivizing doctors and hospitals to use electronic medical records is falling short of its target.

“Federal health officials said Wednesday they have cut billions of dollars from the projected cost of a program to push doctors and hospitals to use electronic medical records, suggesting their previous estimates overstated the number of health care providers likely to adopt the technology. The goal to create a digital health record for every American in the next five years was first set under President George W. Bush. The project picked up steam in the Obama administration, which regards it as vital to controlling soaring health care costs. In May, budget officials estimated they would spend up to $47 billion in stimulus money to help doctors and hospitals purchase the systems. But in a press briefing on Wednesday, officials said that figure had been chopped nearly in half to between $14.1 billion and $27.3 billion. ‘A program like this has never been done on this national scale,’ Tony Trenkle, who directs the office of e-health standards and services for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Huffington Post Investigative Fund in an interview. ‘This is our best estimate at this point. We are going to refine these estimates based on comments and others who look at our assumptions,’ he said.”


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