Senate approves major healthcare IT bill

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would provide $280 million to healthcare providers and regional information technology networks to promote the adoption of IT. The grants would be spread over two years.

The Wired for Health Care Quality Act also would develop an IT network in other ways. It would create a public/private American Health Information Collaboration panel that would make health IT recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services within a year of the bill's enactment.

It also would codify in federal law the establishment of the National Coordinator of Health IT within HHS to oversee the development of IT infrastructure. David Brailer currently holds this position.

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Nathan Deal (R-GA) sponsor the legislation, which represents a compromise of earlier bills. The House must now act on the bill for it to advance.