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Government Affairs News & Materials

Sen. Kennedy Introduces Health IT Bill

July 2nd, 2007

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has introduced legislation known as the "Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007" which aims to modernize health care by increasing physicians' access to technology therefore reducing administrative costs and the frequency of fatal errors due to a lack of information. Included in these IT systems are warnings indicating when a prescription may harm a patient, reminders for screening tests, and the availability of the patient's entire medical record.

Senator Kennedy predicts a result of approximately $140 billion will be saved each year which is equal to almost $700 savings per family from implementation of the legislation. This legislation is considered to be the initial model and starting point for health IT legislation in the 110th Congress.

If the Wired for Health Care Quality Act is enacted, health care providers, especially small providers who have less funds to devote to such technologies, will be assisted in providing the technologies to their practice. The major provisions of the bill include:

  • Development of unified standards for health IT;
  • Codifying the role of the National Coordinator for Health IT in coordinating the policies of federal agencies regarding health IT;
  • Establishing the Partnership for Health Care Improvement (a public-private partnership) to recommend interoperability, standards, implementation; specifications, and certification criteria to the Secretary for the exchange of health information;
  • Requiring Federal IT purchases adopt standards of the Partnership and the president while remaining voluntary for private entities;
  • Creating the American Health Information Community to provide recommendations regarding patient privacy, information security, and appropriate uses of health information to the Secretary;
  • Implementing strong privacy protections for electronic health information through mandatory inclusion of strong privacy protections in the national strategy on health IT including patient notification when their medical information is wrongfully disclosed;
  • Providing grants for those in need of financial assistance to purchase health IT systems;
  • Providing grants to assist states in creating low interest programs for health providers who purchase health IT systems that will improve the quality of healthcare;
  • Providing grants to encourage implementation of regional and local health information to improve healthcare with the electronic exchange of health information;
  • Establishing a Health IT Resource Center within HHS.