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State Health IT a Priority in Stimulus Package

January 28, 2009
by root
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The proposed national economic stimulus plan includes key incentives for state health IT programs and focuses on the goal of having all medical records computerized within five years, according to the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

If the bill passes as it is currently written, “states would receive funds to offer low-interest loans to finance implementation of health IT as well as money to distribute grants to regional health information exchanges that will enable better coordination of care,” says Sen. Richard T. Moore, NCSL vice president, who is also co-chair of NCSL’s Health Information Technology Champions (HITCh) Project and a member of the National Governor’s Association’s State e-Health Alliance.

A preliminary summary of the House version of the package identifies four health IT priorities:

  • · Invest $20 billion in health IT infrastructure, including Medicaid and Medicare incentives and state grants to encourage providers to use health IT
  • · Develop standards that allow for the nationwide electronic exchange of health information
  • · Generate savings through improvements in quality, care coordination, and reductions in medical errors
  • · Strengthen privacy and security laws assuring that state laws are retained

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has developed a cadre of health IT policy experts from among its members. In this rapidly evolving arena, legislative expertise in health IT policy is essential to identify best practices for the use of state and federal money.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization serving the legislators and staff of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on state issues and is an advocate for the interests of the states, it says.

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