U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, has introduced legislation that offers limited legal protection to Medicare and Medicaid providers who use electronic records.
HR3239, the Safeguarding Access For Every Medicare Patient Act, would ensure patient access to Medicare and Medicaid providers; reduce health care costs; guarantee incentives to providers to remain in the Medicare and Medicaid programs; and promote participation in health information technology.
Providers will eventually be required to participate in electronic recordkeeping or face a reduction in payments.
Marino said the bill offers incentive in the form of legal protection to providers who may be reluctant to remain in the Medicare and Medicaid programs due to low reimbursement rates which are constantly being targeted for further reductions.
HR3239 would create a system for reporting potential errors that occur when using electronic records without the threat of that information being used as an admission of guilt. It also prevents electronic records from being used as an easy source for "fishing expeditions,'' while making sure that parties responsible for errors are held accountable. The proposal allows for providers who use electronic records to take remedial measures without having those actions be used to establish guilt; places time limits on the filing of lawsuits; and offers protection against libel and slander lawsuits.
"Many providers are reluctant to use electronic records because they believe the practice will make them more vulnerable to unnecessary legal action," Marino said. "Every time a doctor or hospital chooses not to participate because of these fears, our seniors lose another provider. This protects access for seniors in the Medicare and Medicaid programs."
Marino said HR3239 is a two-pronged attack against rising health care costs: It provides legal protection to providers while encouraging the use of health information technology which has been shown to reduce costs.
"Best of all, passage of this bill would require no new spending," Marino said.
This is the fourth bill Marino has introduced since taking office in January. His other legislation includes: HR 1779, the Federal Hiring Freeze Act; HR 1946, Preserving Our Hometown Pharmacies Act; and HR2492, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act.