Health IT Legislation to Watch in 2014

As the healthcare industry expands its use of health IT, several pieces of legislation introduced last year have the potential to shape the industry in 2014 and beyond.

The Excellent in Diagnostic Imaging Utilization Act: Introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Eric Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah). The bill would both direct HHS to establish appropriateness requirements for advanced imaging based on medical societies' evidence-based recommendations and mandate physicians consult these guidelines through clinical decision support technology before ordering imaging tests. The bill has been endorsed by the American College of Radiology. The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Health Savings Through Technology Act: Introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Scott Peters (R-Calif.). The bill would create a 19-member commission to research best practices for using these technologies to lower healthcare costs and provide recommendations for how to incorporate them into federal healthcare programs. The proposal has won the support of the American Telemedicine Association and the California Healthcare Institute. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Sensible Oversight for Technology which Advances Regulatory Efficiency Act: Introduced into the House of Representatives by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.).The bill builds on the regulatory guidance released earlier in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration to develop a framework to help ensure patient safety while encouraging innovation. Under the proposed bill, medical software, defined as software "intended to be marketed to directly change the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals," would be subject to FDA oversight. Clinical software, defined as software used in healthcare settings by clinicians, and health software, defined as software not used directly in patient care, would not be subject to regulation.

The bill has been met with mixed industry response. The Software & Information Industry Association supports the bill, while the mHealth Regulatory Commission does not, saying the bill is too ambiguous and could go too far in deregulating the industry. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

The Telehealth Enhancement Act: Introduced into the House of Representatives by Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The legislation would adjust Medicare payments for home health services to account for the use of remote patient monitoring and provide coverage for home-based video services for homebound or hospice beneficiaries, among other reforms. The American Telemedicine Association has come out in support of the measure, saying the legislation would increase access to care and improve quality. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

The Telehealth Modernization Act: Introduced into the House of Representatives by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). The bill would both create a federal definition of telehealth as well as provide guidelines for states in developing telehealth governance policies. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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