House passage moves health IT bill nearer reality

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The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would bring long-term care providers and the rest of the healthcare industry one step closer to a national health information technology system — and corresponding reduced administrative costs, increase quality and efficiency, and improved resident safety, according to advocates.

The measure, which represents an amended version of a Senate bill, is aimed at promoting the increased use of healthcare information technology by codifying the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Department of Health and Human Services. The law also would establish a committee to make recommendations on national standards for medical data storage and develop a permanent structure to govern national interoperability standards.

While the bill would clarify current medical privacy laws with regard to stored data or information transmitted electronically, critics of the measure, including some House Democrats, have raised concerns about the bill's provisions on billing codes. They also claim the legislation lacks adequate medical privacy protections. Some Democrats also disapproved of the fact no deadline for adoption of health IT is stipulated in the bill.