FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Groups Representing Millions of Americans Offer Strong Support for Health Information Technology Bill Introduced in House of Representatives
WASHINGTON, DC — June 4, 2008 — Twelve organizations representing consumers, labor, patients and research organizations today circulated a letter in support of proposed legislation in the House of Representatives that would promote health information technology. The legislation, sponsored by Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Joe Barton (R-TX), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Nathan Deal (R-GA), establishes a framework for modernizing our health care system through health information technology and strengthens privacy protections for Americans’ personal health information.
In order to improve the quality and affordability of health care and protect patients’ privacy, the National Partnership for Women & Families leads the Consumer Partnership for e-Health. The combined membership of the group represents more than 127 million Americans, including Consumers Union, AARP and AFL-CIO.
The letter says, in part: “We believe that health information technology and exchange (HIT/HIE) are critical underpinnings of a more patient-centered health care system. They can facilitate better coordination of care, encourage higher quality and more efficient care, increase system transparency, and empower consumers to more actively engage in health care decision-making. At the same time, such a system raises serious concerns among consumers about personal privacy, data security, and the potential misuse of their information. While an interoperable system of electronic health information holds great promise, the many possible benefits will not be realized unless appropriate policy measures are established up front.”
"Health information technology holds enormous promise to improve health care in this country,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. "However, this will only succeed if people trust that their information will be protected and shared only with authorized parties. The bill proposed in the House takes a very important step toward striking the right balance between protecting privacy and advancing this technology."
"Health IT has the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. This new bill represents a major step for patients and the entire health care system. We have an opportunity to make our health care system safer and more effective while saving money. AARP and its nearly 40 million members hope lawmakers will recognize how much our country needs health IT legislation," said AARP Board Member Dr. Byron Thames.
The Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the legislation today, Wednesday, June 4. The Senate is still considering its own health information technology bill.
"This legislation is an important down-payment on health reform," said Steven Findlay of Consumers Union. "It will help push health care into the age of digital communications and empower consumers to become better informed and more engaged patients."
The National Partnership is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting access to quality health care, fairness in the workplace, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.
The Consumer Partnership for e-Health is a non-partisan group of consumer, labor, patient, and research organizations working to improve health care quality through expanded use of information technology.