Health IT Low on Agenda, Congressional Aides Say
Health information technology legislation likely will not be a priority this year, congressional aides from each party said on Monday during a forum sponsored by Erickson Retirement Communities, CongressDaily reports.
The aides agreed that there is congressional support for legislation that would create standards for electronic health records, but "there was also consensus that time and money would be huge barriers to doing anything this year," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 3/26).
The aides, who asked not to be identified, said that SCHIP reauthorization, a scheduled 10% cut in Medicare physician payments and Medicare prescription drug benefit oversight likely would "dominate this year's legislative agenda," CQ HealthBeat reports.
Speakers at the forum said that the progress of health IT legislation will be further complicated by disagreements between the House and Senate over antikickback language and the time frame for implementing new health care billing codes. In addition, there also could be disagreements over patient privacy protections and whether federal grants should be used to encourage health IT implementation.
One of the congressional aides said, "I'm not sure how far we're going to get moving towards health IT" this year because of monetary and time constraints. Another aide said, "We remain optimistic Congress can move health IT legislation this year or next year."
A nationwide poll presented by Erickson Retirement Communities at the forum found that 70% of U.S. voters favor expanding the use of EHRs and about two-thirds incorrectly assume that their health care providers already have adopted the technology.
For the poll, researchers surveyed 800 registered voters from Feb. 9 to Feb. 15.
Among concerns regarding EHRs, the poll found that 68% of voters were concerned about identity theft or fraud, 62% were concerned about unauthorized access by marketers, and 53% and 51% of respondents, respectively, were concerned about insurers and employers using the data without permission.
In addition, the poll found that 73% of those surveyed supported making EHRs available in emergency departments and 71% supported EHRs as a way to help physicians coordinate care and prevent drug interactions. Fifty-four percent supported EHRs as a way to prevent medical errors, the poll found (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 3/26).