HHS chief pushes Congress to health IT and EHR adoption

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Mike Leavitt. Source: HHS  

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Chairman Mike Leavitt has released a statement regarding the benefits of adopting nationwide health IT policies: “The benefits of utilizing health information technology for keeping EHRs and other purposes are clear. This technology will produce a higher quality of care, while reducing medical costs and errors, which kill more Americans each year than highway accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.”

Leavitt also addressed the current congressional actions that have the potential to rectify the current faults with Medicare. “Congressional leaders are working on legislation to address Medicare's physician payment system, staving off a reduction in reimbursement rates that is set to take effect in January and is required by law,” he said.

“In my view, any new bill should require physicians to implement health information technology that meets department standards in order to be eligible for higher payments from Medicare,” Leavitt added. “Such a requirement would accelerate adoption of this technology considerably, and help to drive improvements in healthcare quality as well as reductions in medical costs and errors.”

Leavitt remains optimistic that Congress shares his mindset. “I'm confident that many members of Congress are of a like mind on this issue and I will actively work with them in the near future.”

Leavitt concluded that the current “legislation should also support the success of the Medicare Modernization Act. The Medicare drug benefit has helped ensure access to vital medication for millions of seniors and has done so at nearly $200 billion less than its original estimated cost…Both have proven to be highly popular with the American people and worthy of continued support from Congress.”