Sen. Edward Kennedy Introduces Electronic Medical Records Legislation
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on Thursday introduced a bill (S 2421) that would require most health care providers to implement electronic medical records and claims processing by 2011 or face reduced reimbursement, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 5/14). President Bush last month promoted a proposal to establish a national electronic medical records system and issued an executive order to create a national health information technology office within HHS. The office of the national health information technology coordinator, expected to begin operations within three months as part of the HHS Office of the Secretary, will coordinate and evaluate current and future department IT efforts and establish technical standards to allow physicians and hospitals to share EMRs and ensure patient privacy. Bush said that the office will establish the technical standards by the end of the year. In addition, Thompson on May 6 at an HHS health information technology summit said that establishing an electronic medical records system could save the United States at least $140 billion per year. Thompson promised summit attendees that the federal government would implement a national EMR system in fewer than 10 years (California Healthline, 5/7). The bill also would direct the HHS secretary in conjunction with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to establish quality standards for medical care and includes language that would allow public and private insurers to reduce reimbursement if health care providers do not comply with the standards. The bill includes requirements to improve access to preventive care, such as requiring health insurers to cover items recommended by the HHS secretary and the task force. Under the bill, the federal government would provide grants, low-interest loans and loan guarantees to facilitate the changes (CongressDaily, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.