Friday, June 09, 2006

Two Important Legislative Actions (Federal)

House Subcommittee Passes Amended Health IT Bill

June 09, 2006

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on Thursday approved by voice vote a bill (HR 4157) that would promote the use of health care IT, CQ Today reports (Schuler, CQ Today, 6/8).

The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), would codify the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within HHS and would establish a committee to make recommendations on national standards for medical data storage and develop a permanent structure to govern national interoperability standards. The bill also would clarify that current medical privacy laws apply to data stored or transmitted electronically (iHealthBeat, 6/8).

Prior to approval, the subcommittee approved a substitute amendment sponsored by Deal that removed two provisions from the legislation. The provisions would have increased the number of diagnosis and procedure codes from 24,000 to more than 200,000 and would have allowed federal medical privacy laws to pre-empt state laws (CQ Today, 6/8).

The subcommittee also approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) that would require a study on the effect of the bill on the health care system (Povich, CongressDaily, 6/9).

The full committee plans to mark up the legislation on June 13, Deal said (CQ Today, 6/8).

Second Announcement:

Legislation Would Create EHR Banks

June 09, 2006

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would establish electronic health record banks that would form a nationwide health information network similar to the nationwide financial system, the Kansas City Business Journal reports.

The Independent Health Record Bank Act would give patients ownership of their health records, and they would be able to sell their record data - which would be stripped of identifying information - for research or other authorized purposes. The patient and health record bank managing the patient's account would equally split the tax-free proceeds from the health information sales. Revenue from the data sale also could be shared with health care providers and payers to encourage them to contribute additional information to the banks, the Journal reports (Kansas City Business Journal, 6/7).

The banks would be operated by not-for-profit groups similar to credit unions, Health Data Management reports. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-R.I.) plans this week to introduce a companion bill in the House.

"Accessing your health records should be as simple as checking your bank records using your ATM card," Ryan said. "There is no reason that medical information can't be managed in a similar way, with proper safeguards to protect patient confidentiality" (Health Data Management, 6/8).


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