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Kennedy and Murphy Introduce HIT Extension Bill

The co-chairs of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) recently introduced legislation to expand  incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The extended incentives will qualify many behavioral and mental health professionals, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral and mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities for Medicare or Medicaid incentives.

“As co-chairs of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, Congressman Murphy and I have long advocated for the adoption of electronic health records as an efficient means to lower health care costs and reduce medical errors,” said Kennedy.  “This legislation would further extend the incentives included in the HITECH Act to the mental and behavioral health community.  It acknowledges what was established with the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act – that we need to treat illnesses of the brain just as we would ailments of any other part of the body.” Said Kennedy in a release.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $20 billion in funding for a nationwide interoperable health information system. The funds provide incentives to physicians, hospitals, clinics and other providers but excluded mental and behavior health professionals from incentive funding.

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