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House Bill Aims to Incentivize Adoption of EHRs by Behavioral Health Providers

July 24, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Last week, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) technology by behavioral health providers.

According to a press release from Rep. Matsui, while the Meaningful Use Program has been successful in increasing adoption of EHR systems by eligible providers, behavioral health providers were left out of the program, and many do not have the resources to implement full EHR systems.

The bill, H.R. 3331, would create a demonstration project, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), to incentivize adoption and use of electronic health record technology by psychiatric hospitals, community behavioral health centers, residential and outpatient mental health and substance use treatment facilities, and clinical psychologists and social workers.

The bill specifically states that it would provide incentive payments to behavioral health providers, such as a public or private hospital that is principally a psychiatric hospital, a community mental health center, an accredited residential or outpatient mental health treatment facility, an accredited substance abuse treatment facility, a clinical psychologist and a clinical social worker for adopting certified EHR technology and “using such technology to improve the quality and coordination of care through the electronic exchange of health information.”

“This is another step forward in our work to put mental health on a level playing field with physical health care,” Rep. Matsui said in a prepared statement. “By encouraging the use of electronic health record technology by behavioral health providers, we can improve care coordination and behavioral health integration. That helps ensure patients receive the treatment they need in the right place at the right time. I’m pleased to work with Congresswoman Jenkins on this important legislation as part of our overall efforts to reform the mental health system in this country.”

“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help update our nation’s mental health care and put it on the same playing field as physical health care,” Rep. Jenkins said. “I look forward to working with Congresswoman Matsui, and anxiously anticipate the day that this important EHR software is available to health IT providers so they can better serve their patients.”


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