Louisiana creates loan program for EHR purchases

The plan will rely on federal grants and build on previous state efforts to expand health IT adoption in underserved rural areas.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Aug. 6, 2009

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that would create a loan program for physicians and hospitals hoping to buy an electronic health record system.

The Electronic Health Records Loan Program Act, signed July 9, gives the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals the authority to apply for $25 million in federal stimulus funds in order to administer loans for EHR purchases. The measure also included $5 million in matching funds from the state, a requirement under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The state will learn later this year if it will get the federal grant.

"This is another step in updating and improving Louisiana's health delivery system for all Louisianians," Jindal said in a prepared statement.

The measure builds on legislation passed in 2007 that helped seven rural hospitals acquire EHRs. The law also established the Louisiana Rural Health Information Exchange. In 2008, additional funding allowed another seven rural hospitals to become connected.

To qualify for the loans, the purchased EHR system must be certified by the body eventually chosen by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services for such approval. Loans could also apply to fully integrated telemedicine systems.

Acknowledging upfront costs are a barrier that the incentives wouldn't help alleviate, many EHR vendors also launched financing options for physician practices as a result of the stimulus. General Electric Co., for example, is giving practices the options of deferring payments until incentives start being paid in 2011.

Jenny Smith, health information technology project manager for the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, which is the state-designated entity for distributing all grants coming out under the federal stimulus package, said details are still being worked out in terms of the loan agreements. Work groups consisting of several stakeholders in the state are currently working on structuring the loan program, she said.

"The goal is to maximize the amount of support we can give to providers in Louisiana who couldn't otherwise purchase an electronic health record or upgrade their electronic health record to meet the meaningful-use criteria for the incentives," Smith said.

Once the state has reached 100% compliance, Smith said, the fund would likely be used for support such as upgrading systems or training.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn