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House Passes Health I.T. Bill

By M.L. Baker  |  Posted 2006-07-28 Print this article Print

Patient privacy advocates bemoan the lack of protections in the health information technology bill passed in the House of Representatives.

Patient privacy advocates are bemoaning the lack of protections in a health information technology bill passed by recorded vote in the House of Representatives July 27.

Two committees had originally passed slightly different versions of the bill, now called the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006, leading to months of delays. A Senate version of the bill passed in 2005.

The bill makes permanent the Office of the Health Information Technology Coordinator, calls for a demonstration program to provide health I.T. grants to small physician offices and sets forth procedures to update information standards. It also seeks to eliminate some anticorruption legislation that prevented hospitals and other entities from donating technology to doctors.

Previous versions of the bills would have pre-empted some state privacy laws. However, the current version simply requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop "model policies" for privacy and security and how current laws interfere with such policies. The current version of the bill states only that it complies with the .

But privacy advocates argue that this bill should itself include protections. A coalition of 13 of the nation's top consumer and patient organizations sent a letter to Congress on July 26 warning that the bill would do little to promote health I.T. and would instead undermine consumer confidence.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: House Passes Health I.T. Bill

Monya Baker is co-editor of CIOInsight.com's Health Care Center. She has written for publications including the journal Nature Biotechnology, the Acumen Journal of Sciences and the American Medical Writers Association, among others, and has worked as a consultant with biotechnology companies. A former high school science teacher, Baker holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Carleton College and a master's of education from Harvard.
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