Senators consider their options for health IT overhaul

Senators Enzi and Kennedy discuss legislation linking nationwide electronic data base to economic stimulus.

An aide to Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Michael Enzi said today that the senator has not seen sufficient details of an economic proposal to know whether adding health IT to the mix would “blow the budget.” HELP Chairman Edward Kennedy and Enzi introduced legislation more than a year ago aimed at reducing health providers’ administrative costs and minimizing the sometimes fatal errors caused by a lack of patient information. Privacy issues and funding concerns prevented the measure from reaching the floor.

CIGNA Chief Medical Officer Jeffrey Kang, at a health IT conference today, cited Obama’s campaign pledge to invest $10 billion per year over five years in health IT and lawmakers’ continued interest in the issue. “We’ve gone as far as we can vis-a-vis what the private sector can do. Now it’s time for [government] to fill in the gaps that the private sector can’t do by itself,” he said.

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