California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday announced that the state will provide $25 million in grants to fund health IT projects that will expand health care access in rural and underserved areas of the state, Health IT Strategist reports.
The grants are funded as part of charitable investments required by the state from PacifiCare Health Systems under a 2005 merger agreement with UnitedHealth Group (Vesely, Health IT Strategist, 8/23).
"Expanding health information technology is a cornerstone of my comprehensive plan to reform [California's] broken health care system," Schwarzenegger said. He added, "Using technology in health care not only expands access to underserved parts of California, but also increases patient safety and reduces overall health care costs" (Government Technology, 8/23).
Applications for the grants will be posted on the Department of Managed Health Care's Web site. Grant recipients will be awarded through a competitive bidding process (Health IT Strategist, 8/23).
Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal for California includes several health IT initiatives, including:
- Requiring e-prescribing by all providers by 2010;
- Supporting standardized personal health records;
- Adopting electronic health records in counties for mental health systems;
- Supporting health IT adoption through public-private partnerships;
- Accelerating health IT implementation by leveraging state purchasing power and supporting uniform interoperability standards; and
- Expanding broadband capabilities to support telemedicine, telehealth and e-health programs (Government Technology, 8/23).