The US House of Representatives is to vote on a bill that proposes a national health IT network, called the ‘Independent Health Record Bank Act’. House Republicans have cited a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the bill “would increase direct spending and reduce revenues.”
Republicans Nancy Johnson and Nathan Deal sponsored the legislation, HR 4157, which was approved by Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means House committees.
The bill calls for the formation of independent health record banks by non-profit cooperatives, which would maintain electronic health records for a fee and make them accessible via swipecards.
This bill would remove legal barriers that currently prevent the private sector from efficiently coordinating information and technology, leveraging privatenot publicdollars to promote health IT, said Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA). This would result in better coordinated and higher quality health care.
However, the CBO estimate concluded that the legislation’s Safe Harbor provision, which would allow hospitals to donate IT equipment to affiliated clinics and physicians, would increase utilization and as a result, increase costs. This is a dramatic turnaround from earlier arguments which claimed that health IT would enhance care, administrative, and overall cost efficiency.