More details have emerged about the Small Business Health IT Financing Act (HR 3014), which would establish a loan program for health care providers who want to invest in health IT systems, Healthcare IT News reports.
House Small Business Regulations and Healthcare Subcommittee Chair Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.) introduced the bill last week during a subcommittee hearing on health IT adoption among small physician practices (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 6/26).
The bill would allocate $10 billion in Small Business Administration loans to help individual health care providers and small practices purchase health IT tools that support the "meaningful use" requirements of the economic stimulus law.
Under the stimulus package, physicians who demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records could qualify for increased federal incentive payments.
The bill would allow a single provider to receive a maximum loan of $350,000 and a small practice to receive a maximum loan of $2 million.
All applicants also must qualify as small businesses under the Small Business Act.
Health care providers could use the loans to purchase and install technology that:
- Boosts evidence-based decision support;
- Empowers consumers or patients;
- Enhances continuity of care; or
- Improves quality measurement reporting (Goedert, Health Data Management, 6/26).
Dahlkemper said, "Ultimately, small and solo health practitioners are small businesses. Similar to small businesses everywhere, one of their biggest challenges is accessing affordable capital."
She added that providing loans for small practices to invest in electronic health records and other health IT tools will help reduce costs in the broader health care system (Healthcare IT News, 6/26).
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Small Business (Health Data Management, 6/26).