Thursday, June 16, 2005


Clinton, Frist Introduce Health IT LegislationJune 16, 2005
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Thursday will introduce a health care IT bill that would help connect Medicare providers' payments to the quality of their services, CQ HealthBeat reports. The legislation would create a Medicare program to encourage the reporting of health care quality data and facilitate performance-based payments to providers, CQ HealthBeat reports. The HHS secretary could roll out the program nationwide in two years. Under the legislation, exemptions from existing laws would allow hospitals, health plans and other stakeholders to provide health IT equipment to physicians as long as it is used to reduce medical mistakes, improve quality and cut costs, CQ HealthBeat reports. The bill also would allow $125 million per year in grants to local and regional collaborations of hospitals, health plans, physicians and other providers to develop health IT standards. The bill also would require the federal government to adopt interoperability standards, which would be voluntary for the private sector (CQ HealthBeat, 6/16).

The bill would spend $125 million a year to promote local and regional health information systems to allow some 6,000 hospitals and 9,000 health care providers to better communicate and share patient histories during medical emergencies.
The bill would also increase reimbursement rates paid to doctors who participate in the networks. Some providers have already switched to a paperless record keeping system, but many would like to see the federal government speed the changes and ensure the different technologies being adopted can work together.
The legislation has been criticized by privacy advocates, who say it would be far too lax in protecting patient records.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said expanding medical databases the way Clinton and Frist hope would put more people at risk of identity theft.
Clinton said lawmakers would have to ensure that such electronic records be secure and that confidential information is protected.
She also said hospitals were separately moving toward creating new records-keeping systems, and such steps will only create more confusion and waste without standards for sharing critical data.


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