Health Information Technology Legislation Advances

On June 25th the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the "Protecting Records, Optimizing Treatment, and Easing Communication through Healthcare Technology Act of 2008" (H.R. 6357). H.R. 6357 was originally introduced by Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX). The bipartisan bill is a combination of elements from legislation previously introduced by various Representatives in the 109th and 110th Congresses. Prior to introduction of the final bill, Chairman Dingell held a hearing that provided stakeholder groups with the opportunity to voice feedback on the legislation.

H.R. 6357 seeks to utilize health information technology to strengthen quality in health care, reduce medical errors and costs, and to protect the privacy of health information. The bill provides for adoption of interoperable standards to enable physicians to exchange health information in a secure manner. Additionally, the legislation establishes incentives for physicians, hospitals, and insurers to adopt health information technology via the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Finally, H.R. 6357 seeks to encourage use of electronic health records by every resident of the United States by 2014.

Gaining approval by the Subcommittee is only the first step in advancing HIT legislation; however, the bill is slated to be reviewed by the full committee later this month
Ray Quintero (

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