Speakers cast dim, then positive health IT outlooks

According to Wikipedia, a male African elephant can weigh up to of 26,000 pounds. That gives you some idea how ponderously depressing acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems was as the first general session speaker Tuesday morning on Day Two of the 80th American Health Information Management Association convention in Seattle. Weems’ job was to give an account of present-day conditions in the healthcare industry.

“In 21 short days there will be an election,” Weems said. “Seventy-seven days after that, a new administration will be in office.”

So far, so good. But Weems didn’t stop there. No matter who wins the White House, Weems said, “the elephant in the room is the rising cost of healthcare.”

Then he proceeded to lumber through a deflating recitation of past healthcare costs and future cost estimates:

National expenditures on healthcare in 1980 were $364 billion, representing 9% of the economy.

By 2017, healthcare costs are projected to rise to $4 trillion and consume 20% of the economy.

The next year, 2018, the Medicare trust fund is projected to go bankrupt.

Right now, state Medicaid expenditures are on par with state spending for primary and secondary education.

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