A congressional caucus primarily devoted to the technological modernization of the healthcare industry is in the formative stages on Capitol Hill, in the latest sign of the rising visibility of healthcare information technology in Washington.
The bipartisan organization, calling itself the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, is chaired by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.). Vice-chairs are Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).
A health aide to Kennedy said a letter was distributed to members of Congress within the past two weeks and about 12 members have expressed interest in joining so far.
In a related development, a think tank headed by Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced it would make advancement of healthcare IT its top priority.
"The viability of our healthcare system depends on making a national health IT infrastructure a reality," said Gingrich, founder of the Washington-based Center for Health Transformation.
The activity follows recent calls by President Bush for accelerating the deployment of electronic health records across the country and his executive order establishing a national office to coordinate health IT initiatives by the federal government and the private sector.