Health IT bill goes to House

Senate passes health IT bill

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has introduced the Wired for Health Care Quality Act, which passed the Senate in November 2005 with bipartisan support.

The bill has no co-sponsors yet. It was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The bill would establish the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which President Bush created by executive order. It would give legislative support to many of the activities already under way in the office, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and elsewhere in the executive branch.

Among other provisions, it would require HHS to promulgate health IT standards and require that all federal health IT purchases conform to those standards. It would also authorize grants and loans to support health care providers’ adoption of health IT.

The bill also calls for developing health care quality measures and reporting the scores of providers that receive federal funds. It would require strong privacy protections for online health information and notification of patients if an organization wrongfully discloses their medical information.

Besides Issa’s bill, the House is considering several other health IT measures, including one introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and another by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

Issa introduced his bill shortly before the House recessed for the holidays. It will resume work Jan. 31.

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