Legislative provisions that would require providers to use federal health information technology funds to purchase equipment made in America were stripped from both the House and Senate versions of a massive $819 billion economic stimulus package, riling Republican lawmakers who say they want assurances that taxpayer dollars stay in country.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a co-chairman of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, said an amendment originally approved by committee leaders that would have required that the money go to jobs here in the U.S. was ultimately dropped from the final legislative language that passed the House on Wednesday.
My disappointment is that there is no guarantee that these jobs are going to be American jobs, Murphy said. We have to make sure that these jobs are going to be American jobs.
Similarly, an amendment offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that would have required providers to buy American-made health IT systems was also stripped from the broader bill.
In both cases, Democrats originally accepted the provisions.
But the so-called buy American provision stayed in place in other parts of the broader stimulus bill, passed by the House last night on a party line vote, 244-118. The House package puts restrictions on the use of foreign steel and iron that would be used in many of the required infrastructure projects, and the Senate's version would require most materials to be bought in the U.S.
I still believe that the American taxpayers are going to foot the bill for this in terms of reforming our healthcare system, Murphy said. And the American taxpayer ought to see some payoff from American jobs.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who along with Murphy chairs the caucus, said he agrees that the jobs created by the economic recovery package should stay stateside. I certainly think we need to buy American, he said, adding that while the specific provision to do so may not be in the final bill, the intent is to keep the jobs here.
Read "House passes stimulus bill" for more.