The first form of EHRs would include information currently tracked by health insurers -- such as hospital and physician visits, claims information and prescription drug records -- and FEHBP members could access them within four years of passage of the legislation. The second form of EHR would include personal health information -- such as medical history, symptoms and diet -- and FEHBP members would administer them. The bill, co-sponsored by subcommittee Chair Jon Porter (R-Nev.) and Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.), would require health insurers to comply with medical privacy rules established under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the administration of the EHRs (CongressDaily, 9/14). Under the legislation, health insurers would cover the cost of the establishment of the EHRs and could not pass the cost to FEHBP members through higher premiums. The bill also would require health insurers to provide grants to physicians to implement EHRs through a new trust fund established with private donations.
America's Health Insurance Plans has asked Porter to delay the legislation until health insurers develop standards for EHRs and the systems used to store and transmit them. AHIP President Karen Ignagni said that the bill would lead to the establishment of a number of different EHR "models and make standardization and interoperability very difficult to achieve." Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) said that the legislation should include more privacy protections, such as a requirement that health insurers inform FEHBP members in the event their EHRs are unlawfully obtained (Wayne, CQ Today, 9/13).
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.