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Bill offers tax breaks for healthcare IT

In a move aimed at boosting healthcare IT implementation, Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-Ga.), has introduced legislation that would increase the first year of rapid depreciation for qualifying equipment - including electronic healthcare records - from $100,000 to $250,000.

"This gives physician offices a greater incentive by allowing them to write off more of the total expense of an electronic medical record system in the first year," the summary states.

The bill also would increase the purchase maximum for qualifying equipment from $400,000 to $600,000 in any given year, enabling physicians to deduct other purchases in the same year that they bought an electronic records system.

With a slim margin, the House OKs Labor-HHS Spending Bill

The House recently voted by a slim margin to approve the $602 billion Labor-HHS spending bill. The bill decreases discretionary spending by about 1 percent to a total of $142.5 billion. The bill includes monies for Medicaid and Medicare, with big cuts to medical training, community colleges, rural healthcare and health departments. Discretionary spending has been decreased about $1.5 billion, while NIH expects to receive reduced funding.

House OKs $61.7M for ONCHIT

A House conference committee recently approved $61.7 million in funding for Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONCHIT) for the Labor, Education and HHS appropriations bill. The breakdown of the bill includes $42.8 million of direct funding for ONCHIT, and $18.9 million set aside for Public Health Service Act development of a health IT network. In addition, Congress has targeted $50 million for the Agency for Health Research and Quality for healthcare IT spending.

Notice lists messaging, vocabulary standards

Curious about messaging and vocabulary standards? HHS published a notice listing the 20
messaging and vocabulary standards the federal government has adopted for its healthcare information systems in the Dec. 23 issue of the Federal Register.

IDX is now part of GE

GE Healthcare has completed its acquisition of healthcare IT provider IDX Systems Corp. With the two company's combined capabilities, they hope to become a leading healthcare IT vendor by offering a comprehensive suite of clinical, imaging and business information systems available, according to a release.

Specifically, GE hopes the acquisition will bolster efforts to connect physicians' offices to hospitals through enterprise-wide electronic health records (EHRs), for safe, efficient and cost-effective patient care.

Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare's Information Technologies business, is heading the combined business. GE Healthcare's IT business will have its global headquarters in Barrington, Ill., with major offices in Burlington, Vermont; Boston; Seattle; and London.

Dictaphone sells EMS division

Dictaphone Corp. has sold its Electronic Manufacturing Systems (EMS) Division to Bulova Technologies, LLC.

Dictaphone's sale of its EMS Division unit is part of the company's continuing strategy to create a company focused principally on the healthcare information technology market. The sale follows the company's recent divestiture of its CRS Communications Recording Systems business, which involved the assembly of more hardware-intensive communications recording systems within the company's EMS facility.

For Bulova's part, the acquisition represents the combination of the two organizations that will provide a natural complement for each other, the company said. EMS complements Bulova's core strength in contract manufacturing and provides additional depth of management.

Report: Software may improve virtual colonoscopy

A new study has shown that computer software has the potential to make virtual colonoscopy nearly as accurate as conventional colonoscopy, according to a report by the National Institutes of Health published in the December issue of Gastroenterology. But, the two methods may not yet be identically effective, for though each method worked nearly the same in identifying large colon polyps, standard colonoscopy is a better tool for locating polyps between 6mm and 8mm.

Swissray's DR systems gain FDA clearance

Swissray International's new direct digital radiographic system ddRFormula has been granted FDA 510(K) marketing clearance. The company will now be offering customers a choice between amorphous silicon flat panel, like its competitors, and their patented