Senate committee gives OK to joint health IT Bill

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As a follow-up to last week's report regarding the new joint health IT-related bill Wired For Health Care Quality Act (S.1418), The Senate HELP Committee did approve the bill last week. As was reported, the compromise legislation contains components from two bills that were constructed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), with another by Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).
   
A breakdown of the bill's main objectives follows:

  • Gives grants of $125 million in fiscal year 2006 and $155 million in FY 2007 to boost the use of health IT systems by health care providers;
  • Empowers the HHS to award grants to health education centers to similarly add health IT systems into programs;
  • Creates a Health Information Technology Resource Center to assist states in implementing health IT systems;
  • Dictates that HITRC privacy rules do apply to health information stored or transmitted electronically;
  • Establish a quality-measurement system that would provide higher payments to health care providers with improved quality scores;
  • Creates two offices to recommend policies for IT adoption, and requires federal agencies that collect health information to follow the standards set in the policies within three years;
  • And the bill bars the expenditure of federal funds on technology that do not meet the standards.