Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved by a voice vote broad health information technology legislation that would give providers more than $560 million in grants and loans to help encourage them to adopt electronic medical records and other IT systems.
The bill, called the Protecting Records, Optimizing Treatment and Easing Communication Through Healthcare Technology Act, or PRO(TECH)T Act, also strengthens current federal patient privacy and security requirements. At the outset, the bill will give the federal government increased authority to set standards and spur adoption through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The legislation also requires that a secondary policy committee be established to help aid the federal office.
Lawmakers said that they addressed one of the long-standing sticking points of the stalled health IT bill by requiring HHS to annually assess security provisions and by broadening privacy requirements to the business community.
The bill would also give consumers more say over the information that can be revealed in their personal health records. For instance, one provision allows the individual patient to determine what information health plans can and cannot access. And another provision requires vendors to notify individuals of any security breaches to their records. -- by Matthew DoBias