February 10, 2009

Whitehouse: Health IT Investments in Economic Recovery Legislation Will Save Money and Save Lives

Rhode Island Democrat Led Effort to Provide Assistance to Doctors Implementing Health Information Technology Systems

Washington, D.C. – Economic recovery legislation passed today by the U.S. Senate will significantly improve the quality and efficiency of health care in America, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said today. As part of the measure, Whitehouse spearheaded an effort to establish resource centers to help doctors implement new health information technology systems.

“Supporting doctors who use health IT to improve patient outcomes will create jobs and help us bring down the spiraling health care costs that threaten to engulf our economy,” said Whitehouse, who spoke on the Senate floor last week in support of the health IT provisions of the recovery plan. “This is a wise investment that will help lay the foundation for significant reform in our health care system.”

The economic recovery bill includes $18 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentives for doctors who use health IT in their practices to improve the quality of care for their patients, as well as $3 billion for grants, loan programs, and other provisions to enhance our health IT infrastructure. It also helps create uniformity among health IT systems by creating a new health information technology standards committee, and includes a number of vital privacy protections to ensure the security and the confidentiality of electronic patient records.

The central and regional resource centers Whitehouse championed will provide information and assistance to doctors who implement health IT systems. In his Senate floor remarks last week, Whitehouse stressed that “this bill doesn’t just hand out grants to buy big, fancy new boxes of equipment to sit in office closets. This bill includes implementation assistance so that doctors have a little help opening that box, installing that technology, and putting it to work on behalf of their patients.”


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