House Bill Would Extend Meaningful Use to Behavioral Health Providers | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

House Bill Would Extend Meaningful Use to Behavioral Health Providers

June 8, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would give behavioral health and addiction treatment providers the ability to receive Medicaid and Medicare incentive funds for the meaningful use of certified electronic health records (EHRs).

The legislation, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” (H.R. 2646) was introduced in the House last week by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The Murphy-sponsored legislation has bipartisan support, and is aimed at addressing the mental health crisis nationwide where 60 million people experience mental illness in a given year. Co-sponsor of the bill is Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Currently, behavioral health provider organizations can qualify for meaningful use incentive funds only through the current definition of eligible professionals, which includes physicians and some nurse practitioners that are affiliated with their facilities. The typical behavioral health organization has a limited number of these professionals compared to psychologists and licensed social workers.

This bill expands Medicaid and Medicare meaningful use incentive funding eligibility to include mental health treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals and substance abuse treatment facilities. It also expands the types of providers that are eligible for Medicaid and Medicare meaningful use incentives to include clinical psychologists and licensed social workers.

The National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), an association representing behavioral healthcare organizations and professionals, applauded Rep. Murphy for his leadership in answering the call for action. In a statement, the association said, “We thank Rep. Murphy and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and other cosponsors for their support and for demonstrating that achieving overall health of mind and body is a bipartisan goal. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act provides specific solutions to some of the most challenging issues we face.”

According to NAPHS, the bill would also:

  • Change Medicaid policy (the "Institutions for Mental Disease" exclusion) that currently prevents adults from accessing short-term, acute care in psychiatric hospitals.  It would also strengthen mental health and addiction parity.
  • Improve care by promoting quality and integration. Health information technology incentives would become available to behavioral health organizations to encourage improved sharing of medical information.
  • Create a new Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to facilitate government-wide coordination and focus on the needs of the most seriously ill.

Healthcare Informatics' sister publication, Behavioral Healthcare, has more coverage of this story.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.

Report: Healthcare Accounted for 45% of All Ransomware Attacks in 2017

Healthcare fell victim to more ransomware attacks than any other industry in 2017, according to a new report from global cybersecurity insurance company Beazley.

Study: Use of EHRs Does Not Reduce Administrative Costs

A recent study by Duke University and Harvard Business School researchers found that costs for processing a single bill ranged from $20 for a primary care visit to $215 for an inpatient surgical procedure, or up to 25 percent of revenue.