Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Express Support for Health Care IT Bill
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Wednesday announced that they will work together to promote legislation to spur the adoption of electronic record-keeping applications by the health care industry, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Freking, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/12).
Rodham Clinton and Gingrich appeared at a news conference in support of a bill (HR 2234) introduced in the House on Wednesday by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) that would provide doctors and hospitals with incentives to adopt health information technology networks.
The bill would provide $50 million in fiscal year 2006 for 20 three-year grants to help fund the development of regional health information organizations, as well as "such sums as necessary" to fund the grant programs from FY 2007 through FY 2010 (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11). The funds also could be used to fund 10-year loans to develop RHIOs, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Reston, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/12).
The bill would require HHS to certify that the networks complied with privacy, interoperability and other standards (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11). RHIOs would allow hospitals, doctors and nurses to quickly transfer patient information between facilities, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Barrett, AP/Boston Globe, 5/12).
In addition, the legislation would provide $2.5 million annually from FY 2007 through FY 2010 to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality "to help doctors' offices make sound IT investments," CQ HealthBeat reports. Under the bill, Medicare payment "adjustments" would be available to physicians and suppliers who participate in the networks, but an amount is not specified (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11).
Rodham Clinton said she plans to soon introduce broader Senate legislation addressing health care IT with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) (CongressDaily, 5/11). According to USA Today, Rodham Clinton for a year has worked with Frist on the legislation (Stone, USA Today, 5/12). Rodham Clinton declined to disclose additional details about the bill.
Kennedy said that Frist's support of the effort could increase the likelihood of Medicare funds and federal matching funds for states to develop and implement electronic networks in their Medicaid programs being allocated to it (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11). In addition, Kennedy said the support of Rodham Clinton and Gingrich could indicate Senate action this year on provisions of HR 2234 (Mulligan, Providence Journal, 5/12).
Rodham Clinton and Gingrich "joined a growing chorus of experts" who support health care IT systems, the New York Times reports (Hernandez, New York Times, 5/12). Rodham Clinton and Gingrich said that overreliance on paper records is unsafe for patients and increases the total cost of providing health care.
"If we can begin to move to using more information technology, we will help reduce errors, we will improve quality, we will save money," Rodham Clinton said (Meek, New York Daily News, 5/12).
Gingrich said hospitals would be willing to pay for 80% of physician offices nationwide to install the systems if they were guaranteed not to violate federal laws against referral inducements (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11).
Rodham Clinton said that she and Gingrich "have a lot in common in the way we see these problems and have to deal with in order to have a 21st century health system" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/12).
"Paper kills. ... This is not complicated. If you see paper in the health system, it risks killing people," Gingrich said (New York Daily News, 5/12). He added that Murphy's bill "sets the stage for the House and Senate to do something decisive this year" to reform health care (CQ HealthBeat, 5/11).