Prospects for Passing House Health IT Legislation Unclear
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote this week on legislation aimed at creating a nationwide system of electronic health records and protecting patient privacy, but the bill's fate remains unclear, CongressDaily reports.
In June, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved the bill, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) and ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas), by voice vote. Since then, staffers have been negotiating language with industry and consumer advocates, but some individuals involved in those talks say the chances of passing the bill get slimmer as more time passes.
Barton and Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) say the negotiations largely are related to privacy.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wants the bill to include language that would allow state attorneys general to sue on behalf of residents over security breaches because thousands of complaints about HIPAA violations have been ignored, he said.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has said the bill's patient consent provision is too broad and would impose regulations on top of what is already required by HIPAA.
Pallone said, "This bill, unlike others, still has the potential of being passed in both houses and getting to the president's desk." He said he still hopes to move the legislation through the House and Senate and to the White House this year.
However, Dave Roberts, a lobbyist for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, said he believes the House has "achieved what it's going to achieve" this session in regards to health care IT. He said a provision aimed at encouraging doctors to use electronic prescriptions that was included in the recently passed Medicare physician payment bill was a good first step (Noyes, CongressDaily, 7/21).