Health information technology (HIT) bills continue to abound in Congress. Recently, House bill (HR 6898) was introduced by House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark, which includes proposed penalties for providers who do not adopt HIT by a certain date. A similar House bill (HR 6357) was introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair, John Dingell, but does not include penalties. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is promising that there will be a “good” Democratic HIT bill ready early in the next Congressional session. The word is that congressional staffers are working on a draft even as I write this post, and that it will likely incorporate components of the Stark and Dingell bills.
Yet, with the upcoming change in administration, and other pressing national issues taking priority, it is tough to predict which one (if any) of the several HIT bills that are currently pending, or any future bills that may be introduced in the next session, will actually become enacted law. Nonetheless, providers should stay abreast of how proposed HIT legislation is progressing because funding opportunities that also are likely to become available for eligible applicants (i.e., providers) may need to be seized within a certain time frame. If a deadline is missed, then the only "bills" that may be left are those for implementing HIT that has become standard, or mandated.