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Electronic Health Records Bill Introduced

Electronic health records could become a reality sooner than expected for more users, if a recent bill, introduced by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia on April 23, 2009, is passed. The Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009 would facilitate the nationwide adoption of open source-based electronic health records (“EHR”). According to the Senator’s press release, Senate Bill 890 would create a new federal Public Utility Board, housed within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, to direct formation and ongoing operation of the Public Utility Model.

Additionally, the bill would administer a grant program for safety-net providers to cover the costs of developing and implementing open source software for up to five years (with possible renewal for five more); facilitate communication between open source user groups to encourage improvement; ensure compatibility between different programs, as well as integration with Medicaid and CHIP billing; create a child-specific EHR to be used with federal children’s health programs; and develop performance measurements for the open source software.

According to Sen. Rockefeller, the bill builds on the successful use of ‘open source’ electronic health records by the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the ‘open source exchange model,’ expanded among federal agencies through the Nationwide Health Information Network-Connect Initiative. The primary objective of the bill is the development of an open source implementation that would be completely free to users who want an EHR solution–especially small, rural users who can’t afford a commercial option.

For more information, please call Abby Pendleton, Esq., Robert Iwrey, Esq., Adrienne Dresevic, Esq., Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq. or Jessica L. Gustafson, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or visit The HLP website.

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