Lawmakers are drafting legislation to finance regional health information networks that would allow data to be transferred confidentially and securely among providers. The bill, to be introduced in the House by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Timothy Murphy (R-Pa.), would require the development of financing mechanisms to encourage health IT implementation by providers and would reward physicians for participating in the networks with extra Medicare reimbursement. Twenty regional health information organizations would receive three-year grants to build the IT networks and write plans to use them, with advice from providers, patients, payers and employers. Medicaid would match state contributions. The proposal also includes 10-year loans to help regional organizations defray upfront costs and some exceptions to antikickback laws. A cost for the program has not been estimated, and a companion bill is not yet planned for the Senate. -- by Tony Fong
House bill to propose, fund regional IT networks
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