Kennedy, Murphy introduce bi-partisan healthcare IT bill

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Rep. Tim Murphy and Patrick J. Kennedy, (D-R.I) yesterday introduced with a group of their House and Senate peers from both parties the 21st Century Health Information Act (H.R. 2234).

Michael Zamore, policy advisor for Rep. Kennedy, told Health Imaging & IT two weeks ago that the bill is designed to spur the development and proliferation of IT initiatives throughout the country starting at the local level and then on to the national stage. The bill sets out a means to accomplish this via an assortment of grants and loans that supporters hope will lead to greater use of secure electronic medical records systems and other technologies to bring down medical error rates and overall healthcare costs.

Beyond grants and loans, the bill also establishes other incentives such as increases in Medicare reimbursements for physicians and others to participate in the electronic network are available to them.
   
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-Tenn.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are some of the key figures that have announced support for the measure.
   
According a release yesterday from Rep. Kennedy's office, by laying out a regional approach, the hope is to unite all community health care stakeholders locally to provoke three initial healthcare transformations:

  • Develop a means for getting IT into physicians' everyday practice;

  • Design architecture for a secure, confidential health information network;
  • Create strategies for using all of the new information capabilities available in order to make sure the appropriate care is delivered to the right people efficiency.

  "Whether you're worried about Medicaid, access to prescription drugs, malpractice premiums, the uninsured - you name it - the trend lines are going in the wrong direction because we aren't set up to get the best possible health outcomes at the lowest possible cost," said Kennedy according to the release. "Health IT is key to making the system deliver the right care to the right people at the right time as efficiently as possible."

At the ceremony, Senator Clinton stated that she had a commitment from Frist to join with her in creating a Senate version of the 21st Century Health Information Act. Clinton stated that the plan is to introduce their bill in the near future but no further details were available, according to the Kennedy release.