Health IT lobbying slumps under Trump
- A Politico analysis of recent lobbying disclosures found 25% fewer groups lobbying Capitol Hill on MACRA in the second quarter of this year than during the same period last year — 58 versus 81.
- Lobbyist spending on MACRA dropped from more than $27 million a year ago to around $18 million in Q2 2017. Meaningful use was listed by just 34 groups this year, compared with 64 in 2016. Listings for telehealth dropped from 82 last year to 64 over the last three months.
- Among the major lobbying groups for the second quarter were McKesson, athenahealth, Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, Alliance for Connected Care, Teladoc, Health IT Now and CHIME. Humana and Premier were among those that stopped lobbying Congress on MACRA.
The report sheds light on the impact Affordable Care Act repeal efforts are having on healthcare industry players and the industry itself. With President Trump focused squarely on some kind of ACA repeal package, issues like MACRA and health IT solutions have been sidelined to some extent.
Also, Trump’s appointees to head HHS and CMS, Tom Price and Seema Verma, favor a softer legislative and regulatory touch.
But while health IT lobbying may be slowing in the halls of Congress, the sector continues to show signs of robust growth. During the first half of 2017, investors plowed $3.5 billion into 188 deals involving digital health companies, according to a recent Rock Health report.
StartUp Health counted 300 digital health deals totaling $6.5 billion for the half. The two companies track digital health differently. By either count, 2017 is on track to be a record-breaking year.
There’s been a lot of speculation about what the Trump administration will mean for digital health. The mood following the November election was cautiously optimistic. The feeling was that new policies and regulations that increase financial risks for consumers and ratchet up cost pressures on providers could fuel investment in digital solutions.
And last year’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act gave digital health a boost by clarifying the Food and Drug Administration will not regulate certain categories of software, including clinical decision support data and wellness apps. In Venrock’s 2017 Healthcare Prognosis survey, respondents said telemedicine and wearables/consumer sensors were likely to be the least challenged healthcare subsectors under the Trump administration.