Bill Would Extend Meaningful Use to Behavioral Health

Behavioral health and substance abuse facilities may become eligible to receive federal EHR incentives.

Legislation introduced into the House of Representatives would extend the HITECH Act “meaningful use” EHR incentive program to behavioral health and substance abuse providers.

The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 aims to make behavioral and mental health professionals, substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral and mental health clinics, and substance use treatment facilities eligible for Medicaid and Medicare incentive funds for the meaningful use of EHRs.

These providers were left out of the January notice of proposed rulemaking that defined the type of healthcare provider eligible for the incentive payments.

The legislation was introduced April 15 by Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) and Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA).

“Delivering health IT to mental and behavioral providers bridges the care for those with mental and physical illness,” said Murphy, a psychologist, in a press release. “To best diagnose and treat patients, mental health professionals need complete, up-to-date medical histories.”

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means. Click here to track the status of the bill, HR 5040.

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