House Commerce Committee Approves Bill To Encourage Voluntary Reporting of Medical Errors
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote a compromise version of a bill (HR 3205) that would encourage voluntary reporting of medical errors, CQ Today reports. The measure was negotiated with Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and committee ranking member Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), according to commerce committee Chair Joe Barton (R-Texas) (CQ Today, 7/20).
The bill would establish a legal framework to log error reports and establish an HHS database to catalog reports and identify trends (California Healthline, 7/20). According to CongressDaily, negotiators "agreed the legislation should be neutral on litigation issues." However, the compromise version provides new legal protections "for new information in this new patient safety reporting system" in an effort to encourage people to report errors (CongressDaily, 7/21).
The House commerce health subcommittee on July 14 approved a version of the bill, and the Senate HELP committee on March 9 approved a separate version (S 544) sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) (California Healthline, 7/20). A spokesperson for Enzi said the senator before the August recess plans to bring the compromise bill to the Senate floor as a substitute for Jeffords' version (CongressDaily, 7/21). Barton said he expects the compromise measure to pass in both chambers (CQ Today, 7/21).
The House commerce committee on Wednesday also approved the following legislation:
- Health insurance sales: HR 2355, sponsored by Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), would allow insurers to sell policies in other states while being subject to regulation only in the primary state. During debate, Democrats introduced several amendments that would have restored coverage mandates and ensured states had options if an insurer regulated by another state was found to be fraudulent. The amendments failed, and the measure was approved 24-23. According to CQ Today, the measure is expected to face a "similar fate" as a prior bill that passed the House several times but had "no traction in the Senate."
- Insurance pools: HR 3204, also sponsored by Shadegg, would reauthorize a grant program that expired in September 2004 for states that establish health insurance pools for high-risk individuals (CQ Today, 7/21). Shadegg has said he expects the measure to be combined with HR 2355. The health subcommittee approved a version of the bill July 14, and the Senate HELP Committee approved a version (S 288) on Feb. 9 (California Healthline, 7/20).
- Prescription drug records: HR 1132, sponsored by Rep. Edward Whitfield (R-Ky.), would expand access to patient prescription drug records in an effort to limit drug abuse and avoid drug interactions (CQ Today, 7/21). The bill aims to improve patient information databases and establish a system for drug data through which physicians and pharmacists could indicate harmful drug interactions or abuses. Under the measure, states would be authorized to share information with health care providers and law enforcement (California Healthline, 7/20). Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced an amendment that would have required patients to be notified if information was lost or stolen. However, committee members said the privacy issue should be addressed in a separate bill. The amendment was defeated 15-32 (CQ Today, 7/21).