Healthcare IT bill to include financial incentives for nursing homes

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday sent to committee a measure that would further encourage the use of health information technology in all provider settings, including nursing homes.

The bill, H.R. 6357, reflects a number of changes made by a bipartisan panel of legislators after hearings on the matter were held on June 4. Among some of the other provisions, it would provide grants to providers to help cover costs of implementing IT infrastructures. The grants would be given out through three competitive grants programs.

While the new legislation takes into account many of the changes suggested at the hearing, some patient privacy advocates, including Deborah C. Peel of the group Patient Privacy Rights, testified that the bill doesn't go far enough toward protecting patient privacy. The advocates call for a specific definition of the term "privacy" and more provisions requiring patient consent. Lawmakers expect to vote on the bill before the August recess.