Bill Would Expand Eligibility for 'Meaningful Use' Incentives

Yesterday, Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) introduced a bill (HR 5025) that would allow behavioral, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers to qualify for incentive payments for the "meaningful use" of electronic health records, Healthcare IT News reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, hospitals and physicians who demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs can qualify for incentive payments through Medicaid and Medicare.

The new Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 would extend eligibility for the incentive payments to:

  • Behavioral and mental health professionals and clinics;
  • Substance abuse professionals and treatment facilities;
  • Psychiatric hospitals; and
  • Licensed psychologists and clinical social workers (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 4/16).
Steve Wood
I doubt that additional funding will be needed for two reasons. First, there are a number of physician groups who will not take advantage of the funding or who will be late to the process and second, most behavioral health organizations will not be able to meet the MU criteria anytime soon. Some will and for those organizations this is great news if passed. However, it comes with a double edged sword. With the incentives also come the penalties if non compliant by 2016. Therefore this is both an incentive and a risk for all qualifying entities.
Lawrence Boose
I assume that additional funds will be appropriated, otherwise if these providers are added to the eligible provider group, and must share the existing HITECH stimulus fund, the fund will be exhausted and providers will be left out.

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