April 23, 2010
Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) have introduced legislation to expand eligibility for federal health information technology (HIT) resources to a broad range of mental health and substance abuse professionals and providers. The bill, titled the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (HR 5040), adds mental health and substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and community mental health centers to those eligible for electronic health record incentive payments established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
The original co-sponsors of HR 5040 (see list above) are seeking additional cosponsors in the House of Representatives to build support for the bill. Please contact your U.S. Representative today, and urge him or her to sign on as a cosponsor to HR 5040.
The ARRA provided $20 billion in incentives and grants to hospitals and health care systems to establish electronic health care systems throughout the nation. Unfortunately, most mental health and substance abuse professionals and facilities were excluded from eligibility for these federal funds.
HR 5040 is intended to solve this problem by extending eligibility to these providers and programs, including public and private psychiatric hospitals, community based mental health programs, psychologists and clinical social workers. (Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners are already eligible for this program under existing law).
A press statement has been issued by Reps. Kennedy, Murphy, Green, and Hastings on HR 5040.