Stark bill to propose penalties for those lagging in EHR adoption
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. Image Source: Political Blotter  
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill intended to encourage nationwide adoption of EHRs this week, which will include a provision to impose penalties on healthcare providers who fail to implement them.

The bill would build on the proposed PRO(TECH)T Act, H.R. 6357, from the Energy and Commerce Committee and already under House consideration.

At a health subcommittee hearing in July, Stark and others said that health IT legislation should have a provision that would penalize healthcare providers who do not adopt EHR technology. Senate bill, S 1693, introduced by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and House bill, HR 6357, introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell, D-Mich., have been approved, but do not include such penalties.

Stark said, “I don't see anything in the other bills that says what to do with a hospital system that says, 'We won't do it,' or a doctor who says, 'I don't have a computer, and I won't buy one,’” adding, "How do you enforce it?”

He said that his bill would “provide financial incentives for people to convert, and, given enough time, penalties for those who don't.” The penalties likely would come as reduced Medicare reimbursements, CQ Today reported.

According to CQ Today, “with time running short” in the current legislative year, subcommittee members likely will need “to mark up the bill this month for it to have any chance of success.”

Interest groups that support portions of Stark’s bill are concerned that the time required for the bill to make it through the full committee and combine it with the Dingell bill could pose a risk to its passage in Congress this year, CQ Today reported.