Friday, May 27, 2005

Michigan IT Bill Pending

WASHINGTON — Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) plans to introduce legislation that would give grants for healthcare providers to adopt healthcare information technology and would modify Medicare’s payment system to reward providers for healthcare IT use, Sen. Stabenow told attendees at a healthcare IT conference on Wednesday.
The bill, which will be called to Healthcare Quality Improvement Act, will offer funding to providers to purchase, lease or install IT, improve or upgrade existing technologies or pay for electronic health records systems. In addition, the bill would create a reserve fund for rural hospitals to pay for IT and would promote the adoption of healthcare IT standards, which are needed to help systems exchange data.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that by 2013, healthcare spending will reach $3.4 trillion. Electronic medical records adoption could help the healthcare system save 7.5 to 30 percent on overall healthcare spending, Stabenow told the audience at the Second Annual Connecting Communities for Better Health Learning Forum.
Stabenow said the bill, which she plans to introduce in early June, has support from Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine).
“I believe we can expect to get something done on this this year,” Stabenow said.
She also urged the healthcare IT community to get involved in larger funding issues, such as the proposed $10 billion cut to Medicaid that Congress passed in April. Stabenow called for the audience to talk about the “devastation” that she said those cuts would bring to healthcare, as well as the alternatives, such as IT, that could help save the healthcare system money. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) also plans to introduce healthcare IT legislation this year.

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