Legislation seeking to improve healthcare data collection, bolster competition for Medicare quality improvement contracts and assist rural healthcare providers was introduced yesterday by U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas). An obstetrician-gynecologist, Burgess said in a news release that his bill, called the "Medicare Quality Improvement Organization Modernization Act of 2007," would give Medicare quality improvement organizations, or QIOs, more flexibility within their CMS contracts and allow them to be more responsive to beneficiary complaints.
The bill follows several recommendations set forth in the Institute of Medicine report Medicare's Quality Improvement Organization Program: Maximizing Potential that was released March 9, 2006. It also calls for: "Assistance in improving the quality of care delivered in rural and frontier areas and reducing health care disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, as well as gender disparities, including efforts to prevent or address any inconsistencies or delays in the rate of adoption of health information technology and in the effective use of such technology among such entities that treat racial and ethnic minorities or individuals ... or that furnish such services in rural areas."
The bill is supported by the American Health Quality Association, an organization that represents the nations network of 53 Medicare QIOs. The AHQA said the bill will limit diversion of funding from work in the field and guarantee that increases in QIO work assignments are matched by adequate resources. The AHQA also said the bill would ensure that QIO governing bodies meet the highest standards for integrity, including expanded diversity, compensation rules and consumer representation.