The Health Information Technology Act of 2007, a bill that would establish a five-year, $4 billion competitive grant program to help healthcare providers pay for health IT and services, was introduced yesterday by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine.).
At least 20% of the grant pool would be available to rural areas or regions where there is a shortage of healthcare professionals, according to a news release. The bill also calls for notifying patients if their health records have been inappropriately disclosed; accelerating the depreciation of health IT software and equipment; and increasing Medicare payments to providers who use health IT.
"Although business has widely adopted new practices and tools, too often medicine remains grossly inefficient, increasing the cost of healthcare for everyone," Snowe said in a news release. "Our legislation addresses the needs of hospitals, healthcare centers and physicians in bringing technology online quickly to save lives, improve healthcare delivery and ultimately reduce costs."
Supporters include the AFL-CIO, American College of Cardiology, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Physicians, Ascension Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, IBM, Michigan State Medical Society, National Association of Children's Hospitals, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Business Group on Health, National Rural Health Association and Trinity Health.
Stabenow also recently sponsored a resolution designating May 14-18 as National Health Information Technology Week. It was co-sponsored by Snowe and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).