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Legislation Calls for Universal EHR Adoption

April 29, 2009
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Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) has introduced legislation to facilitate the nationwide adoption of electronic health records, particularly among small, rural providers, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation..

The Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009 aims to build upon the successful use of open source EHRs by the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the open source exchange model, which was recently expanded among federal agencies through the Nationwide Health Information Network-Connect initiative, according to Committee.

The legislation, says Sen. Rockefeller, is not intended to replace commercial software, but instead to complement the private industry in this field “by making health information technology a realistic option for all providers.”

The Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009 aims to:

  • Create a new federal Public Utility Board within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to direct and oversee formation of this HIT Public Utility Model, its implementation, and its ongoing operation;
  • Implement and administer a new 21st Century Health IT Grant program for safety-net providers to cover the full cost of open source software implementation and maintenance for up to five years, with the possibility of renewal for up to five years if required benchmarks are met;
  • Facilitate ongoing communication with open source user groups to incorporate improvements and innovations from them into the core programs;
  • Ensure interoperability between these programs, including as innovations are incorporated, and develop mechanisms to integrate open source software with Medicaid and CHIP billing;
  • Create a child-specific EHR to be used in Medicaid, CHIP, and other federal children’s health programs;
  • Develop and integrate quality and performance measurement into open source software modules.
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