Addressing Mental Health Care

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided almost $20 billion in incentive funds for health information technology. However, an important group of healthcare providers were excluded from these incentives such as behavioral health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment professionals and facilities.

To remedy the problem, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has reintroduced the “Behavioral Health Information Technology Act” (S.1517) to correct that inequity. The Senator previously introduced a version of this bill in the Senate in 2010.

The Act would enable behavioral health providers, including psychologists, community mental health centers, and psychiatric hospitals plus others to receive incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs.

Specifically, the Act would:

  • Expand the types of providers eligible for Medicare incentives for the use of EHRs to include licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and psychiatric hospitals
  • Expand eligibility for Medicaid meaningful use incentive payments to include community mental health centers, mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals, licensed psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers
  • Allow EHR incentive payments to go to eligible professionals and hospitals under Medicare Advantage plans.

 

For more information, go to www.thomas.gov or call 202 228-6291.

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