iHealthBeat reports today;
"Today in Denver, President Obama is scheduled to sign a $787 billion economic stimulus package that includes $19 billion for health IT that the House and Senate approved Friday, Healthcare IT News reports (Healthcare IT News, 2/17).
The House passed the stimulus package by a 246-183 margin with no Republican support, and the Senate approved the package by a 60-38 margin with the support of three Republicans (Hitt/Weisman, Wall Street Journal, 2/14).
Health IT Provisions
The legislation would:
- Provide $2 billion to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, in part to support regional health information exchanges and establish regional extension centers;
- Require ONC to appoint a chief privacy officer;
- Strengthen HIPAA medical privacy rules;
- Establish health IT policy and standards committees as federal advisory committees;
- Require insurers and health care providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to use health IT systems that comply with national standards;
- Tap the National Institute of Standards and Technology to test health IT standards;
- Restrict the sale of information included in health records;
- Permit state attorneys general to sue individuals to enforce HIPAA medical privacy and security rules (Ferris, Government Health IT, 2/13); and
- Require vendors of electronic health records to alert individuals and the Federal Trade Commission of data breaches (Health Data Management, 2/17).
Prospects for Health IT Firms
In addition, several newspapers published articles recently examining expected financial benefits to health IT firms. Headlines and links are provided below.
The bill also would provide health IT funds for the Social Security Administration, Indian Health Service, community health centers, and medical schools and other organizations.
The legislation aims to make electronic health records available to all U.S. residents by 2014 but would not require individuals to use EHRs (Government Health IT, 2/13).
The Congressional Budget Office projects that health IT provisions in the stimulus package will result in 90% of doctors and 70% of hospitals using certified EHR systems by 2019 (Health Data Management, 2/13).
Health care experts and economists expect the health IT provisions to create jobs in IT and other related fields, reduce health care costs and improve efficiency in the health care system.
However, some Republican lawmakers and other conservatives criticized the bill's health IT provisions, arguing that the move was part of an effort by the Obama administration to rework the health care system with minimal public debate (Douglas, McClatchy/Kansas City Star, 2/13).
"No Batteries Required"