Bush to sign healthcare cost, quality order today

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President Bush is planning to sign an executive order today requiring more disclosure of the quality and cost of healthcare provided by the government.

The order would require the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense; Veterans Affairs; and the Office of Personnel Management to collect more information about the quality and cost of healthcare they provide. They are supposed to share that data with each other and beneficiaries. The overwhelming majority of nursing home care in this country is paid for by government reimbursements.

As part of the order, the agencies would work with the private sector and other government agencies to develop programs to measure quality of care. Also, the agencies would have to use interoperable electronic health records. The agencies must have new programs in operation by Jan. 1, according to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.