NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 31, 2006

A provision in a health care information technology (IT) bill (HR 4157) passed earlier this year by the House could increase U.S. health care costs by as much as $416 million, according to a new study by America's Health Insurance Plans.

The legislation, approved on July 27, would:

  • Codify the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • Establish a committee to make recommendations on national standards for medical data storage.
  • Develop a permanent structure to govern national interoperability standards.

The legislation also would clarify that current medical privacy laws apply to data stored or transmitted electronically and would require the HHS secretary to recommend to Congress a privacy standard to reconcile differences in federal and state laws.

Under the bill, the number of billing codes health care providers use to file insurance claims would increase from 24,000 to more than 200,000 by October 2010.

In addition, the legislation includes an exemption from anti-kickback laws that would allow hospitals to provide health care IT hardware and software to individual physicians.

The Senate in November 2005 approved a separate bill (S 1418) that does not include the provision on billing codes or the exemption from anti-kickback laws. Lawmakers last month failed to resolve differences in the bills prior to congressional adjournment for the midterm elections (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/2).

Source: "Health Care IT Bill Could Increase Costs by $416M, Study Finds," Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, October 30, 2006.


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