Doctor organizations’ concerns put brakes on health IT bill

An attempt to quickly pass a Senate health information technology bill was derailed after medical groups raised concerns about its quality measurement, patient privacy and funding provisions.

Senators in mid-November considered but could not agree on “hotlining” the bill, a term for passing it by unanimous consent without formal floor debate, said Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee spokesman Michael Mahaffey.

Mahaffey declined to specify the disagreements but said the most serious was whether the bill, the Wired for Health Care Quality Act, contained adequate patient privacy protections. The delay occurred after the American Medical Association and 35 other physician organizations sent a Nov. 9 letter expressing their concerns to the legislation’s main sponsors, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D, N.Y.), Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.), Mike Enzi (R, Wyo.) and Judd Gregg (R, N.H.).

{It’s gratifying that this year the AMA and other medical organizations are standing with consumers and patients to defend Americans’ longstanding ethical and legal rights to privacy and to control access to personal health information.~Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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