On September 19, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced a bill to amend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to extend health information technology assistance eligibility to behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse professionals and facilities. As you may recall, the ARRA provided almost $20 billion in incentive funds for health information technology, but this excluded behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse providers and facilities.
The new bill, named Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1517), would enable behavioral health providers, including psychologists, community mental health centers, and psychiatric hospitals, among others, to receive incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records. More specifically, it would:
- Expand the types of providers eligible for Medicare incentives for the use of electronic health records to include licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and psychiatric hospitals.
- Expand eligibility for Medicaid meaningful use incentive payments to include community mental health centers, mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals, licensed psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers.
- Allow electronic health record incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals under Medicare Advantage plans.
A copy of the bill can be found here.