House lawmakers to introduce health IT legislation

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Two Congressmen are introducing separate bills that promote health IT. Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), who heads the House Government Reform Committee's Federal Workforce and Agency Organization Subcommittee, plans to introduce a bill that would create electronic health records (EHRs) for the four million federal employees covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Porter said his Federal Family Health IT Act would implement the EHR requirement in phases, beginning with paid claims records from participating health insurance companies. Each person covered by FEHB within five years of the law's enactment would receive a wallet-size EHR identification card. The program also would give physicians who use health IT systems reductions in liability insurance premiums.

Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) plans to introduce a health IT bill that would put into law the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, in which David Brailer, MD, PhD, now serves, and set objectives for federal agencies' work on advancing health IT. It also would create a program, modeled after the federal student loan program, that would help physicians purchase health IT systems.

Other lawmakers have introduced health IT bills this year, but none have passed.