U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) today introduced the Medicaid Access Project through Information Technology (MAP IT) to lower health care costs. The bill promotes the modernization of health record systems to prevent medical errors and to increase instant access to medical information for patients and doctors.

Specifically, MAP IT will allow for the creation of a demonstration project to provide a more modern, technology-based system for managing chronic disease for Medicaid recipients.

“Our out-of-date health record system drives up costs.  Under the current paper-based system, doctors and patients lack instant access to medical information, which leads to medical errors and inefficiency.  Our pilot project would use efficient, updated technology to improve care quality for Medicaid patients and to decrease costs to states and the federal government,” Smith said.

The project will give chronic disease patients and caregivers access to their medical records and to information about their disease. Patients will be able to communicate with health educators in a variety of ways.  Patients will also be provided access to their Personal Health Record, allowing them to record and track their health information. Physicians and other caregivers will have access to updated treatment and status information for chronic disease patients and a virtual case management tool.

“We are all worried about the rising costs of health care and now is the time to focus our efforts on using innovative technology to help meet our health care needs,” said McMorris Rodgers.  “Health information technology has the potential to revolutionize the way health care is delivered and received.  This pilot project will help reduce costs within Medicaid, empower patients with the necessary tools to manage their disease, and improve quality of care by reducing errors.”

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

In addition to cost-savings, the use of health IT ensures 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.

Under the bill proposed by Smith and McMorris Rodgers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will select at least four proposals to perform the demonstration projects from those submitted by states. The demonstrations would last for two years followed by an evaluation to determine the resulting cost savings.