Health IT bill headed for Senate action

The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has passed the Wired for Health Care Quality Act, which promises to modernize health care by upgrading technology, reducing administrative costs and diminishing medical errors caused by lack of information. The bill now goes to the full Senate for action. It is sponsored by a bipartisan group: Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who all said it was time Congress took action to address health care crises.

“We have a responsibility to make the miracles of modern medicine available to every American,” Kennedy said in a statement. “It’s long past time for the nation’s health care industry to adopt modern information technology. Such technology has revolutionized a wide array of American industries, and it holds the same promise for the health care industry. It has a clear capacity to increase efficiency and reduce costs at a time when the industry is being plagued by the alarming rise in health costs.” The Wired for Health Care Quality Act would create a series of funding mechanisms that would encourage health care professionals to purchase systems for electronic medical records and other clinical applications. The bill also would create a demonstration program to integrate qualified health IT into the clinical education of health professionals and encourage providers to use decision-support software to reduce the number of medical errors.

{The Senate leaders failed the nation by pushing this bill through committee without a hearing or discussion about the fact that this bill eliminates patient control of access to health information. This bill creates a superhighway system for data mining because patients have no right to keep their health records private. Employers, insurers, banks and financial institutions, and schools are all granted rights to snoop in our medical records to discriminate against us. We can never fix the inefficiencies in the system, lower health costs, or improve health quality if patients don’t trust the healthcare system enough to walk into the doctor’s office. This bill is a prescription for disaster, because basic privacy protections and patient control of records are not built into the system up front. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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