Virtually every news outlet across the country is reporting on last night’s vice presidential debates, analyzing every nitty and gritty facet – from Vice President Joe Biden’s pearly whites and myriad interruptions to Congressman Paul Ryan’s aggresive H2O hydration and vague political jargon.
Foreign policy, domestic affairs and social issues were among the most fiercely contested topics of the night. But just as with the presidential debates, one issue again unmentioned was health information technology.
So instead of declaring the debate's winners and losers – or hypothesizing whether Biden fancies Crest or Colgate – we look at what wasn’t discussed: Paul Ryan’s Congressional record on health information technology.
[See also: Veep debate: Healthcare fact twisting with feist.]
- In 2005, Ryan co-sponsored the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006 (H.R. 4157), which sought to establish a national electronic health information system. The bill passed the House with a 270-148 vote, with the majority of Republicans voting in favor of the bill. In a July 2006 press release issued by Congressman Ryan, he said, “This measure codifies the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and works to remove barriers that have prevented interoperable health information technology from being implemented.” H.R.4157 did not, however, pass in the Senate, as some groups argued that the bill placed added burden on physicians while also neglecting to protect patient privacy rights. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, for example, wrote, “The bill doesn’t require patient consent for your medical information to be disclosed to government or private parties. In summary, the bill doesn’t even recognize your right to privacy, nor your right to be informed if there has been a security breach.”
- In June 2006, Ryan co-sponsored bill H.R. 5559, the Independent Health Record Bank Act of 2006, which sought to “improve the exchange of health information by encouraging the creation, use, and maintenance of lifetime electronic health records in independent health record banks.” The bill would have afforded patients exclusive control over their electronic health records and providers and other entities would require patient consent before accessing their health information. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee, then to the Committee on Finance in 2006; it has yet to be enacted.
- In 2007, Ryan co-sponsored the Independent Health Record Trust Act, (H.R. 2991), which closely resembled the earlier H.R. 5559. This bill sought to establish Health Record Trusts, which Ryan said would assume a credit union models and allow patients to access their medical records from virtually any location. “Just as people can check their bank account information online or using their ATM card, patients who want to should have electronic access to their medical records and be able to share this information with their doctor," Ryan said in a July 2007 press release. The bill died after being referred to the subcommittee on Health.
- Sept. 2008, Ryan, as the sole sponsor, introduced the Health Care Services Commission Act (H.R. 7038), which sought to create a Commission that would "support research, demonstration projects, evaluations, training, guideline development, and the dissemination of information, on health care services and on systems for the delivery of such services," according to the bill text. However, the bill never received bipartisan support and contained controversial proposals, such as eliminating entirely the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. H.R. 7038 was referred to the Subcommittee on Health and never enacted.
- Most recently, Ryan introduced the Roadmap for America’s Future Act of 2010 (H.R. 4529) – modified from a similar bill he introduced in 2008. In H.R. 4529, Ryan continued to push for Health Record Trusts. According to the bill text posted on Ryan’s website, these trusts “will allow medical information to be managed in the same manner that financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies, manage financial data.” Similar to H.R. 5559, the plan will supposedly “give every American ownership over his or her own medical record.” The bill was not limited to health information technology, but also contained polarizing proposals, such as privatizing Medicare.
This page will be updated.