Bill seeks legal protection for EHR users

By Molly Merrill
12:18 PM

A bill introduced last week seeks to provide greater legal protection to Medicare and Medicaid providers that use electronic health records.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino introduced H.R. 3239, the Safeguarding Access For Every Medicare Patient Act, on Oct. 26. The Pennsylvania Republican's bill is designed to ensure patient access to Medicare and Medicaid providers, reduce healthcare costs, guarantee incentives to providers to remain in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and promote participation in health information technology.

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.

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H.R. 3239 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 “phishing 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 H.R. 3239 is a two-pronged attack against rising healthcare 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.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

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