Health IT Vendors Are Switching Focus and Starting to Court Republicans


The healthcare IT vendor community is shifting its attention to Republican candidates in anticipation of the 2012 election.

Usually lobbyists tend to switch their monetary donations towards the party that they feel will control the power in the years to come. We now see how Newt Gingrich, arguably one of the top three Republican contenders for President of the United States in 2012, getting showered with money from none other than GE. GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt has been very good to the Democratic cause in the recent past. Immelt was named to Obama's Economic Advisory Board on 2/6/2009 and he was part of "Obamagate," which is the tangled web of political connections involving Obama, GE, cap & trade, GE Healthcare, and Tom Daschle.

Immelt has reportedly since been upset at Obama for various reasons, including the proposal to enact a $500,000 pay cap for executives. He also thinks that there is a “terrible” national mood due to over-regulation in response to the global financial crisis, which Immelt feels could damp a “tepid” US economic recovery. Immelt now feels that Obama is antagonistic to business, and that business has cooled on Obama. He feels that Obama is a poor leader during a troubled period in American history. Histalk recently reported that Newt Gingrich has endorsed a new EMR offering from GE Healthcare. GE is a Platinum Member of Newt’s very much for-profit think tank, Center for Health Transformation. As a sponsor, GE will enjoy limited access to Gingrich, including the chance to conduct more efficient lobbying, and the chance to chair project advisory groups and influence white papers.

This means that the EMR lobbying continues unabated, and the political quid-pro-quo baton has passed from the Democrats to the Republicans. The other two Republican top contenders for 2012 are Mitt Romney, who comes from Massachusetts, where under his watch the current national healthcare bill was first tested and HIT was forced onto physicians ruthlessly. In a 2007 speech, Romney supported the idea of federal incentives to foster more widespread adoption of EMR technology not unlike what Obama signed into law. Romney has a long list of financial support from a wide range of industries, including healthcare and technology. I think that Sarah Palin is honest and EMR neutral, but is somewhat of a 19th-century politician running in a 21st-century world. I was unable to find any references to healthcare information technology in her speeches or past campaign materials.

What we need for 2012 is an honest politician that truly will ignore such lobbyist money, someone like Truman or Reagan. There is still a long time before the 2012 elections. Does a modern-day electable politician who is willing to reject the EMR lobby exist?

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