It appears unlikely that the current House and Senate Health IT bills will be reconciled by the end of 2006, however, many industry experts and legislative analysts expect the newly elected 110th Congress to pass a health IT bill, Healthcare IT News reports.
The New Democrat Coalition — a moderate congressional group that promotes economic growth through technology, science, and research and development — is expected to increase from 46 to 63 members based on the recent election results. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), co-chair of NDC, said that the group has established itself as a leader on health IT issues and that it would continue to prioritize passing Health IT legislation.
An NDC policy paper states that the coalition aims to pass legislation to:
- Offer incentives for electronic health record adoption;
- Provide federal grant support to the development of local, regional and statewide health IT networks;
- Reduce regulatory barriers and the concern of criminal and civil penalties for organizations that provide physicians with IT in return for electronic health data; and
- Ensure privacy and security standards for protecting electronic health data.
Dave Roberts, vice president of government relations at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, said his organization plans to work closely with the NDC to include the best parts of each of the 62 proposed health IT bills in a compilation bill, Healthcare IT News reports.
Roberts said this “dream HIT legislation” likely will be approved with the support of NDC. He added, “with Democrats controlling both houses, there will be more options for resolving differences.”
Roberts predicted that the Democrats will focus on federal funding to encourage transformation and that they will promote privacy issues and the implementation of personal health records (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 11/21).