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Health IT money would go to mental health under bill

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 26, 2010

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Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D, R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R, Pa.) have introduced legislation that would extend incentives for "meaningful use" of electronic medical records to mental health professionals, psychiatric hospitals, and other outpatient mental and behavioral health services.

The Medicare and Medicaid bonuses for meaningful use are available largely for physicians and hospitals. But the lawmakers said an important sector of the health care community is excluded, including clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities and mental health treatment facilities. They said the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act, introduced on April 15, will help ensure that physicians and mental health professionals are working together through the use of interoperable EMRs.

In late December 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlined the first of three stages of meaningful use objectives physicians and hospitals would need to meet to secure EMR bonuses.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/04/26/gvbf0426.htm.

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