McMorris, Smith Pass Health IT Amendment to Reduce Costs and Improve Health Care


(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) and Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today offered a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4157, the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2005. The amendment, originally introduced as the Medicaid Access Project through Information Technology, allows for the creation of a demonstration project that will provide a more efficient and effective system for managing disease by using health information technology on disease management for the Medicaid population. The amendment was agreed to by voice vote and the final bill passed by a vote of 270-148. The bill will now be sent to conference.

“Health IT has the potential to reduce costs with Medicaid, empower patients with the necessary tools to manage their disease, and improve quality of care by reducing errors,” said Cathy McMorris. “The United States lags behind other industrialized countries regarding investment in health IT, and it is time that we begin using 21st century technology for 21st century health care. Washington state is already a nationwide leader in health IT and could benefit by applying to be a candidate in this demonstration program.”

“Under the current paper-based healthcare system, patients and their doctors lack instant access to medical information,” said Adam Smith. “This lack of connectivity and shared knowledge leads to medical errors, increased costs, and inefficiency. This demonstration project would leverage information technology as a tool to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system, improve the quality of care for Medicaid patients and it will decrease costs to states and the federal government, which are facing record deficits.”

The McMorris-Smith amendment directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct 2-year pilot projects in selected states to demonstrate the beneficial impact of health IT on chronic disease case management for the Medicaid population. It allows for the creation of a virtual case management tool that provides patients and providers access to a real-time electronic medical records.

Without changes to our health care system, analysts predict that Medicaid will bankrupt every state in as little as twenty years. By providing online access for managing chronic disease, states will be able to significantly reduce costs within Medicaid. An August 2005 study by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University found that for ever dollar spent on technology-enabled disease management program, it provided up to ten dollars in medical savings and even more in terms of non-medical cost savings.

In addition to cost-savings, the use of Health IT ensures that overall health care delivery is safe and more comprehensive. According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 1.5 million Americas are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing or taking medications. By allowing providers to access real time data, doctors can treat patients with the most recent advancements in medicine and according to the best practices in medicine.

This amendment is endorsed by American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, American Health Information Management Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Northwest Physicians Network, and Othello Community Hospital. It is also supported by the entire Washington state delegation.

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