Saturday, August 12, 2006

House Approves Legislation To Expand Use of Electronic Health Records

The House voted 270-148 to approve an amended version of a Senate bill (S 1418) passed last November that would promote the use of health care information technology, CQ Today reports. Prior to the vote, lawmakers inserted into the legislation the text of a House bill (HR 4157) (Crowely, CQ Today, 7/27). The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), would codify the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within HHS and would establish a committee to make recommendations on national standards for medical data storage and develop a permanent structure to govern national interoperability standards. The bill also would clarify that current medical privacy laws apply to data stored or transmitted electronically and would require the HHS secretary to recommend to Congress a privacy standard to reconcile differences in federal and state laws (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 7/27). Under the bill, the number of billing codes health care providers use to file insurance claims would increase from 24,000 to more than 200,000 by October 2010. In addition, the legislation includes an exemption of anti-kickback laws that would allow hospitals to provide health care IT hardware and software to individual physicians. According to CQ Today, the legislation differs significantly from the Senate bill, which does not include the provision on billing codes or the exemption of anti-kickback laws.


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