Health IT bill stalled in Senate

A federal bill intended to foster the development of a national HIE and support the development of clinical data-sharing standards has stalled in the Senate. The bill, the Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007, is sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-NY). Among other things, the comprehensive bill would create a forum designed to help along the development of HIE technical standards, along with establishing a grant program designed to foster the use of HIT for interoperable data sharing. It would also establish the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as a permanent part of HHS. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would cost the government about $317 million over the next five years.

Until recently, the bill seemed to be on the fast track to passage by the Senate, but within the last several days, it got booted back to committee. Though the Senators haven't disclosed the reason for the stall, observers believe that mounting concern over a lack of consumer privacy protections in the measure may have caused the delay.

To find out more about the bill:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece
- read this eHealth Initiative summary

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