Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) on Tuesday called on health IT professionals to promote a bill that would fund regional health care connectivity projects, Health IT World News reports. Kennedy and Murphy made their comments at the annual meeting of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology.
Kennedy and Murphy are co-sponsors of the 21st Century Health Information Act, which proposes restoring the $50 million in health IT funding that was cut out of the 2005 federal budget. In addition, the bill seeks to create an exemption from the Stark rules that would allow hospitals to help physicians purchase IT.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are preparing a companion bill, Health IT World News reports.
Kennedy and Murphy told the audience that a lack of industry persistence led Congress to cut the $50 million originally allocated to health IT. "The reason it disappeared is because Washington didn't think you were watching," Kennedy said. "People didn't get on the phone and fight for it."
Kennedy called on participants to remain focused on the specific issue of connectivity. "We can't talk about anything else in this bill," Kennedy said. "If this thing starts becoming partisan, we're through. ... We have to keep it clean," Health IT World News reports (Versel, Health IT World News, 6/9).