Health information technology legislation proposed by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the committees senior Republican, is a positive step toward building a national infrastructure of interoperable and secure health data, according to organizations that testified Wednesday in front of a House subcommittee.
The bill marks real progress in enacting IT legislation this year, said Byron Thames, a physician and board member of AARP, who testified on behalf of that organization. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee met to hear comments about the legislation, first announced May 23, from AARP, the American Medical Association, the Center for Democracy & Technology's Health Privacy Project, Cisco Systems, a former surgeon general speaking on behalf of a national black health alliance, Kaiser Permanente, the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation and Verizon Communications.
The bill would strengthen the role of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology around standards development while establishing two advisory boards to guide implementation and offering financial incentives to healthcare providers to adopt IT. Privacy and security concerns also are components of the bill.
Two other House Republicans introduced a version of health IT legislation the same day testimony was given on the Dingell-Barton bill. Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas) announced the Promoting Health Information Act of 2008 to provide incentives for IT adoption, set national standards, privacy requirements and establish the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as the strategic authority for national IT efforts.