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Proposed Bipartisan Bill Extends Electronic Health Records Incentives to Mental Health Professionals

On April 15 a bipartisan bill, the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010, was introduced in the House. The bill extends the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act’s electronic health records incentives to mental health professionals. Currently the HITECH Act provides incentives for qualifying healthcare professionals to demonstrate a “meaningfuluse” of electronic health records. However, the HITECH Act did not expand this incentive to mental health professionals. The proposed legislation would extend the incentives by ensuring the eligibility of certain behavioral and mental health professionals, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral and mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities.

One supporter of the legislation, Congressman Tim Murphy(R-PA) reemphasized the importance of electronic health records for promoting quality health care. “To best diagnose and treat patients, mental health professionals need complete, up-to-date medical histories…Electronic health records ensure that physicians and mental health professionals are working together and delivering the best possible treatments.”

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