Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Legislation Introduced

Representative Marcia Fudge plus several other representatives introduced the “Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009” (H.R. 3124) in the House on July 8th to help safety net healthcare providers. The legislation calls for the Federal Consolidated Health Information Technology Board to be established within the Office of the National Coordinator to help implement electronic health records among safety net healthcare providers.

The Board would help VistA and the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS) user groups communicate and provide for interoperability between the systems. In addition, the Board would see that VistA and RPMS open source software include healthcare provider-based electronic health records, personal health records, and other software modules that would be updated on a timely basis.

The Board would also administer the “21st Century HIT Grant Program” to look at specific health information technology grant needs, provide technical assistance, help to integrate VistA and RPMS with records and billing systems, establish a child specific electronic health record, plus integrate the new grant program with the FCC’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program, the VA’s hospital system, and with other Federal health technology initiatives.

A public or nonprofit healthcare provider is eligible to receive funding. This may include post secondary educational institutions, community health centers, local health departments or agencies, community mental health centers, nonprofit hospitals, rural health clinics, and a consortia of healthcare providers.

Funding for $2,000,000 would be available for Fiscal Years 2010 to 2011 and $1,000,000 for Fiscal Years 2012 to 2014.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and to the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Natural Resources.