Mental Health Lobby Wants EHRs

Mental health advocates are seeking support on Capitol Hill for a bill that would make mental health providers eligible for billions of dollars in incentives set aside to spur adoption of electronic health records.

The bill would give mental health providers access to federal grants and incentives available to other healthcare professionals who use them to purchase and implement electronic health records and facilitate the exchange of health data among providers. Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) introduced the legislation this spring.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), better known as the stimulus plan, "inadvertently restricts mental health practitioners from using most of the incentives that help health care providers and hospitals establish a nationwide health information technology (HIT) system," says the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, a nonprofit organization of 1,700 behavioral health care organizations that supports the bill.

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