Just a week ago, I was on an early flight to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit being held Aug. 6-9 in Chicago, Ill. During the four days, I met Republicans, Democrats and legislative staff as they discussed America’s toughest issues. Many of them are colleagues from across the country I have had the pleasure to share ideas and talk with about HIMSS and health IT, and learn about issues affecting the states and their budgets.
As you can imagine, many of the discussions during the week, in the formal sessions as well as in private conversations, were about the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how it’s reverberating throughout the states. I learned the ramifications of this landmark ruling mean different things to different states. It is amazing to hear such different opinions from friends, such as Assemblyman Herb Conaway from New Jersey and Representative Greg Wren from Alabama.
I also participated in the “Transforming Health Care Through Technology Partnership” business meeting followed by the mobile health technologies meeting. During the working lunch at this session, I learned about advancements in home healthcare and explored ways mobile technologies are revolutionizing healthcare delivery.
With another 32 million people estimated to gain health insurance coverage by 2014, states are looking for innovative ways to expand services for the underserved and rural areas. The session, “Revolutionizing Care Through Telehealth Technologies,” highlighted how telehealth or telemedicine is emerging as a critical piece in that puzzle. It was interesting to hear how Illinois and Wyoming are working to expand these services.
The most interesting session, for me, took place on Wednesday morning: “Preparing for 2013: Health Insurance Exchange Plans and Options.” I learned, by Nov. 16, states that want to run a state-based health insurance exchange must provide a plan to the Department of Health and Human Services. I learned about the approval process and the state actions needed to establish an exchange.
On Thursday, the last day of the Summit, I watched the NCSL business meeting, where legislators and legislative staff considered policy directives and resolutions that will guide NCSL’s advocacy efforts before the Congress and the administration, amendments to the bylaws and the rules of procedures, election of NCSL officers, and approval of the conference budget.
During the business session, the Memorial Resolution supporting National Health IT Week passed unanimously. Wording in the resolution included, ‘The National Conference of State Legislatures has worked closely with HIMSS and other stakeholder organizations to promote understanding among state policymakers of the contribution of health IT to improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery and containing healthcare costs.”
On the flight home, I reflected on what a great opportunity it was to represent HIMSS in Chicago during this week. Listening to the debates and discussions on many of the current policy issues with state legislators and their staffers was another reminder of why our system of government is the best in the world.