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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Health IT Bill

By CQ Staff

June 22, 2007 -- Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, introduced legislation Thursday they said would boost adoption nationwide of health information technology.

Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Ranking Republican Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming said in a press release that the measure would cut administrative costs, end duplicative testing, and reduce fatal errors caused by lack of timely access to medical information.

"Time is of the essence—without uniform standards, the industry is moving forward in a fragmented and disjointed direction," Enzi said. "By passing this bill, we can establish an interconnected, nationwide health technology system to improve the quality of care in this country," he said.

The legislation would take several steps to encourage the development of uniform standards for health IT, including codifying the role played by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in overseeing federal policy development. It would require development of a national health IT strategy that includes strong privacy protections, establish grants to help providers acquire IT and fund clinical education to help doctors incorporate IT in medical practice.

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