SAN JOSE, Calif. – The U.S. government would create a national prize for disruptive medtech innovators and establish a wireless health unit in the Food and Drug Administration if a new bill proposed by a Silicon Valley lawmaker is adopted.
The Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA, H.R. 6626) proposed by Rep. Mike Honda (D., Calif.) calls for spending roughly $10 million a year or more on a Disruptive Technologies Prize Program administered by a group of private and public experts. It also would fund a set of small innovator challenge grants.
The bill would lay the groundwork for clarifying existing regulations on wireless health care. It calls for setting up an Office of Wireless Health at the FDA and a mobile health developer support program at the Department of Health and Human Services. The latter group would advise developers on privacy regulations via a national hotline, an educational website, and an annual report.
Under the new law, doctors would get access to a pool of $25 million in low-interest loans as well as tax incentives for buying IT systems for use in health care. In addition, the proposal would spend $10 million a year for two-year grants to train medical care providers on health care IT systems.
“Investments, development, and adoption of [medtech] technologies remain stagnant,” said Rep. Honda in a prepared statement.
“Currently, our health care system works against small-to-large startup entrepreneurs with a multitude of barriers to entry,” said Honda who represents California’s 15th district covering the San Jose area. “There is also a lack of an established marketplace for new technologies and a lack of trained workers to handle the implementation and use of these technologies--this bill begins to bridge these gaps,” he added.
The bill aims to spur what's perceived as lagging investments in health technologies such as tele-medicine, personal health connected devices, mobile devices, and patient/doctor communication tools. Rep. Honda. "worked with dozens of private industry stakeholders in the drafting of this bill and has received interest from Senators as well as Republicans in the House," said a spokesman.
The bill faces an unclear future at a time when Congress is locked in debate over the looming fiscal cliff. It comes in the wake of controversial health care reforms passed in President Barack Obama's first term.
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