Democrats relaunch health IT legislation

February 9, 2007

Congress is seeing renewed activity on the health IT front. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-MA) is about to introduce two revised bills in that area, including one that would give physicians financial incentives to build personal health records for their patients (iHealthBeat, Jan. 30, 2007). The other measure, which Kennedy is reintroducing with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), would promote health data networks and help physicians modernize their practices.

Congress is seeing renewed activity on the health IT front. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-MA) is about to introduce two revised bills in that area, including one that would give physicians financial incentives to build personal health records for their patients (iHealthBeat, Jan. 30, 2007). The other measure, which Kennedy is reintroducing with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), would promote health data networks and help physicians modernize their practices.

Meanwhile, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) will continue his health IT efforts, including a bill that would allow states to give low-interest loans to physicians for technology acquisition. And Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) plans to reintroduce the legislation she cosponsored last year (iHealthBeat, Jan. 24, 2007). That bill would establish health IT standards and promote formation of a national health information network.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), who heads the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, will also be active in this area. One danger sign for doctors: A Stark staffer has been quoted as saying his boss won't support the proposed exception to the anti-kickback law that allows hospitals to donate EHR and e-prescribing software to physicians.

The Bush Administration continues to back the adoption of health IT, which the President mentioned in his State of the Union address. But a successor to Dr. David Brailer, the former National Coordinator for Health IT who left the government last May, has yet to be found. Dr. Robert Kolodner, the interim coordinator, exited that post at the end of January (iHealthBeat, Jan. 24, 2007).