Congress' Legislative Agenda To Include Several Health IT Issues

In 2015, the 114th Congress is expected to address several health IT issues, including FDA oversight of certain health IT tools and telemedicine, Politico reports.

According to Politico, health IT issues that this year's Congress could tackle include:

  • 21st Century Cures: This bipartisan legislative package aims to increase medical innovation in part by expanding health IT, but its future is unclear because of uncertainty over how much it would cost;
  • FDA oversight of health IT: Congress is expected to consider at least one of two bills -- the SOFTWARE Act or the MEDTECH Act -- that would loosen FDA's oversight of some health IT tools;
  • Interoperability: Lawmakers included language in the fiscal year 2015 continuing resolution omnibus spending bill that requires the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to produce a report on "information blocking" by providers and electronic health record developers, and some industry stakeholders say Congress could take further action on interoperability this year;
  • Meaningful use: Although the FLEX-IT Act -- which would decrease the 2015 reporting period from one year to 90 days -- is supported by several industry stakeholders, experts say an upcoming proposed rule for Stage 3 of the program is more likely than legislation to provide changes to the program;
  • Privacy and data policies: Congress this year could ease restrictions over the use of clinical data so that researchers do not need to obtain patient consent for every study, but a bill -- such as the Expanding Availability of Medicare Data Act -- could prove more difficult to pass than shifting regulations because of push back from privacy advocates;
  • Telemedicine licensure: Lawmakers also likely will consider the TELE-MED Act, which would allow physicians to treat patients across the country via telemedicine services with a single medical license; and
  • Telemedicine reimbursement: Several bills were introduced in the 113th Congress to expand Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine services, including the Telehealth Enhancement Act and the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act, but funding for those additional services has yet to be determined (Pittman, Politico, 1/2).
Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, January 5, 2015

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