A bill pending in the New Jersey legislature would outlaw the use of health IT products not certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. Anyone caught selling or distributing a non-certified product would be subject to civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.
This goes far beyond anything in the federal stimulus legislation known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal law contains financial incentives for using certified EMRs, and eventually penalizes healthcare providers who don't ditch the paper charts, but it only applies to Medicare and Medicaid billing. The New Jersey proposal, from Democratic Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr.--a physician--and Upendra J. Chivukula, would hit doctors and hospitals that don't see a lot of Medicare patients.
Left unanswered is how the state would enforce such a law and what would happen if HHS decides to recognize more than one certifying body. And what about other health IT such as practice management software that CCHIT does not certify?
Needless to say, this bill is creating quite a stir in the blogosphere, particularly since Dr. Al Borges, a Virginia internist and oncologist, found evidence that Conaway is active in the state chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. "All I can say is that I'm glad that I don't live in New Jersey and for their sake I hope this bill fails miserably," John Lynn writes on the EMR and HIPAA blog.