Coalition calls for Congress to pass health IT legislation

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Congress getting push to speed EHR adoption. Image Source: Community EHR  

The Health IT Now! Coalition Tuesday released a joint letter to U.S. House and Senate members urging them to redouble efforts to pass legislation for the creation of a nationwide EHR system.

With time running out for Congress to pass a bill before it adjourns for the November elections, the coalition has unveiled a joint letter to Congress signed by more than 175 businesses, associations, patient groups and non-profit organizations from across the United States, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Cisco Systems.

In the letter, the coalition cautioned against waiting for "the uncertainty of the priorities of a new administration" to pass legislation pending in both chambers that already has wide support from Democrats and Republicans, according to CongressDaily.

According to the letter, the coalition urges Congress to pass health IT legislation this year that includes:

  • A public-private process to determine standards for interoperability, product certification, quality measures and an accelerated process for standards improvement;
  • Financial incentives for healthcare providers to adopt and use health IT;
  • A focus on consumer empowerment through patient and provider EHR education; and
  • Appropriate privacy and security protections.

The proposed health IT bill in the Senate and House have "rankled" privacy advocates, despite provisions to protect privacy and security, CongressDaily reported.

Additionally, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark, D-Calif., has announced plans to introduce a separate bill that would use Medicare reimbursements as an incentive to encourage healthcare providers to adopt the new technology.

Former Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., a co-chair of the coalition, said successful passage of health IT legislation in the next congressional session has "a 50-50 shot ... because the hurdles are high and it's easy for Congress to get bogged down in the ancillary [issues],” reported CongressDaily.