Below are brief summaries of just a few of the great sessions at this year's National Health Policy Conference. If you couldn't join us, we encourage you to participate in the discussion by adding your thoughts here or following us on Twitter ( @nhpc and #nhpc11). Day two of the National Health Policy Conference began with the presentation of the 2011 HSR Impact Award which recognizes outstanding research that has been successfully translated into health policy, management, or clinical practice. This year, the award recognizes research conducted by Terry Tanielian and colleagues at the Rand Corporation which changed the way policymakers, providers, veterans and their families understand and treat behavioral health conditions among returning service members. Read the two-page summary here. Congressional Plenary The Congressional plenary delivered on its promise to offer perspectives on the future of health reform and federal budgets from both sides of the aisle. Although the panelists agreed on few policy details and options, they made it clear that addressing the deficit was a priority for both chambers of Congress. It was also clear from the discussion that research funding – particularly any new programs and initiatives born of the Affordable Care Act (e.g. PCORI and the Prevention and Public Health Fund) – will be at risk in the budget and appropriations process for both 2011 and 2012. In fact, it was stated that no area is “off the table” when it comes to cuts. Members interested in learning more about the budget process and options for engaging in the debate are encouraged to visit the Coalition for Health Services web page. Health Information Technology, Post-Health Reform Panelists in the morning session on health information technology (HIT) represented a range of stakeholders. National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal provided the federal perspective, with updates on the progress of meaningful use adoption. “We have entered a new era in the health care system…Meaningful use is no longer a theoretical program,” he said, citing the nearly 18,000 providers who have registered to become meaningful users as of last week. Donald Wilson, of Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, provided the state perspective on implementing the HITECH Act. He stressed that success requires a lot of support from a broad range of stakeholders. Wilson also discussed the need for enhanced training initiatives in electronic health record (EHR) adoption. Kevin Lanphear, who spoke as a physician who has adopted an EHR system, agreed that a well-trained workforce is essential for success, and incentives are needed to strengthen that workforce. Governor’s Perspective on Health Reform Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown provided the luncheon address, offering a governor’s perspective on health reform implementation. His presentation addressed three themes: putting the Affordable Care Act in the context of state efforts, discussing some of the main challenges facing states in implementation and providing examples of how Maryland is addressing its challenges, and how Maryland plans to “bend the cost curve by improving the quality of health care and health. According to Lt. Governor Brown, “Many states, including Maryland, were innovating in health care long before the federal government enacted the ACA.” Lt. Governor Brown identified key challenges to states setting up the health benefit exchanges, strengthening public assistance programs, and developing the health care workforce, and outlined Maryland’s response to each. In general, he presented the ACA and health reform implementation as an opportunity for states and made it clear that this was an opportunity the state of Maryland intends to seize. In closing, he stated, “Health reform will not be sustainable if we continue to pay for volume rather than value; if we do not address the crushing burden of chronic disease; if we do not reduce preventable complication and re-admissions and disparities; if we do not improve quality while reigning in the runaway growth in costs.”