Kennedy’s Absence Stalls Numerous Bills

The prospects for action on several pieces of legislation dimmed Monday as it became apparent that Edward M. Kennedy ‘s hospitalization will prevent him from returning before the Memorial Day recess.
With Kennedy out of the picture, that outlook was downgraded to virtually impossible.
Differences still to be worked out, according to those close to the debate, include textbook costs and new penalties for states that diminish their contributions to higher education.
Negotiations on a Kennedy bill to increase the use of information technology in health care (S 1693) also could languish in the chairman’s absence.
The bill overcame a major hurdle last week, when Kennedy and Enzi, his chief co-sponsor, agreed to accept an amendment by Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy , D-Vt., that Leahy believes will strengthen privacy protections in the legislation.
The bill would provide grants and loans to health providers to buy the technology to share medical records electronically, and would encourage the health care industry to settle on software and hardware standards for electronic medical records.

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