U.S. House of Representatives Passes Health IT Bill

The Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006, or H.R. 4157, aims to accelerate health-care providers' adoption of information technology. This includes interoperable electronic health record and e-prescribing systems, which can reduce medical errors, inefficiencies, and costs.

The bill's passage comes several months after the U.S. Senate passed its own health IT bill with many similar provisions. However, among the differences is a quality provision in the Senate bill; the House bill also provides $30 million in grants for the implementation of electronic health record systems.

Washington insiders expect the Senate and House to soon work on a compromise bill that if passed, could be signed into law by President Bush by the fall.

Bush two years ago set the goal for most Americans to have electronic health records by 2014. And last week, the Institute of Medicine issued a report recommending that all U.S. doctors and hospitals adopt e-prescribing by 2010 in order to reduce the 1.5 million preventable drug mistakes that are estimated to happen annually in the U.S.

Sponsored post

Bush in the spring of 2004 also issued an executive order creating the sub-cabinet position of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to direct government agencies and health-care providers in the creation of a national electronic infrastructure to support interoperable digital health records.

The position, which reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, was held until recently by Dr. David Brailer, who resigned from the post in April, citing personal and family reasons including the weekly commute from his home in San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

A replacement has not yet been named.

Both the House and Senate bills aim to codify—or to make permanent—the National Coordinator for Health IT position so that it remains intact even after President Bush leaves office.