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D.C. Report: Where the Romney-Ryan Ticket Falls on Health IT

August 21, 2012
by Jeff Smith, Assistant Director of Advocacy at CHIME
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Romney-Ryan Ticket Propels Medicare as Central Campaign Issue; Ryan has shown past support of Health IT Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate.  The announcement came early last Saturday, and since then, there have been a deluge of stories about Rep. Ryan’s history on fiscal issues and his policy suggestions related to Medicare. 

So there are Ryan’s views on Medicare, but what about health IT?  In 2006, Rep. Ryan cosponsored the Health Information Technology Promotion Act, which would have codified the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in statute, provide for a study of federal and state health privacy laws and standards, require a modern coding and transaction system and create a streamlined process for the adoption of transaction standards, among other things.  More recently, Rep. Ryan authored the GOP-endorsed “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” that included a section on health information technology and the development of a medical record banking system.  According to the Roadmap, Rep. Ryan proposes the establishment of “Independent Health Record Trusts,” which would be modeled on the framework of credit unions.  These Trusts would “allow medical information to be managed in the same manner that financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies, manage financial data – establishing a nationwide health information technology network…”

As we near Election Day, you can expect a lot more Medicare talk, but not to worry – CHIME Advocacy is here to sort things out for you.

States Receive Funds to Prevent, Combat Infectious Diseases Health departments in all 50 states and a half-dozen cities have been given nearly $50 million to bolster their epidemiology, laboratory and health information systems, HHS said in an announcement this week.  According to a press release issued by the agency, 49 states, five large cities, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive funds to develop and sustain capacity to participate in meaningful use of electronic health records, e.g. through implementation of electronic laboratory-based reporting according to national standards, allowing for more efficient and effective information exchange within the state and with CDC.  It also stated that four states will receive additional funding to advance the national implementation of electronic laboratory records specifically addressing healthcare-associated infections, including Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and New Mexico.  Funds will also be available for hiring and training new staff and purchasing new equipment.

Report: Broadband Pilot to Connect Rural, Urban Providers Showing Signs of Success Results from a 2006 pilot program meant to provide an infrastructure for connecting rural healthcare facilities to their urban counterparts are promising, the federal government revealed this week.  According to a report released by the Federal Communications Commission, the Rural Health Care Pilot Program was deployed to cover up to 85 percent of the cost of construction and deployment of broadband networks that connect participating health care providers in rural and urban areas.  After six years, program evaluators found that the pilot program has been successful in reducing costs and enhancing healthcare quality.  “Support through the Pilot Program has helped health care providers obtain broadband capability to implement telemedicine and telehealth applications,” the report said, “Although many Pilot projects are still assembling their networks, the projects have already demonstrated how broadband health care networks can significantly improve the quality and reduce the cost of providing health care in rural areas.  Some key lessons learned from the pilot include:

·         Broadband health care networks improve the quality and reduce the cost of delivering health care in rural areas.

·         Consortium applications are more efficient.

·         Bulk buying plus competitive bidding is a powerful combination.

·         Urban sites are key members of rural health care provider networks.

Over $365 million has been spread across 50 sites in 38 states, the report said.

ONC Looks to Expand ‘Blue Button’ The Office of the National Coordinator this week announced plans to takeover development and dissemination of the Veterans Affairs Blue Button Web tool.  Blue Button is a web-based tool that allows patients to view and download their personal health information.  According to a blog post, ONC’s Lygeia Ricciardi and Dr. Doug Fridsma said ONC and the VA will soon be launching an initiative to automate “Blue Button”  by developing standards and specifications that allow patients to not only download their health information to their personal computer, but also to privately and securely automate the sending of that data from their health care providers to their personal health records, email accounts, health-related applications, or other preferred holding place.

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