New Legislation Proposed to Include Behavioral and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Providers in Meaningful Use Incentives

Two representatives have introduced legislation that calls for EHR meaningful use incentives to be extended to behavioral and mental health and substance abuse providers.

Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 today, which would amend the definition of healthcare provider in the original legislation to include behavioral and mental health professionals, substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral and mental health clinics and substance use treatment facilities. The proposed legislation would also impact the Medicaid/Medicare incentives in the following ways, according to the Health IT News release:

Congressmen

“1. Expands the types of providers that are eligible for the Medicare incentives for the ‘meaningful use’ of EHRs to include licensed psychologists and clinical social workers. (Currently, behavioral healthcare provider organizations can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive funds only through the current definition of eligible professionals, which includes physicians and nurse practitioners that are affiliated with their facilities. The typical behavioral health organization has a limited number of these professionals compared to psychologists and other clinical social workers.)

2. Expands Medicare hospital meaningful use incentive funding eligibility to include inpatient psychiatric hospitals;

3. Expands Medicaid hospital meaningful use incentive funding eligibility to include mental health treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals and substance abuse treatment facilities;

4. Expands Medicaid provider meaningful use incentive funding eligibility to include behavioral and mental health professionals, and substance abuse treatment professionals.”

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.”

According to Kennedy, the legislation “acknowledges

Murphy, a psychologist, added: “Delivering health IT to mental and behavioral providers bridges the care for those with mental and physical illness. To best diagnose and treat patients, mental health professionals need complete, up-to-date medical histories. For instance, when depression is not treated, the costs of caring for a person with a chronic illness like heart disease can double. Electronic medical records ensure that physicians and mental health professionals are working together and delivering the best possible treatments. The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act keeps the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus's commitment to treating mental illness with the same vigor as physical ailments."

Psychiatrists: should non-physician providers be able to receive the same meaningful use incentives as physicians? Psychologists and other non-physicians providers: is it fair that, currently, only eligible physicians can receive incentives for meaningfully using the same technologiy as you?

Two representatives have introduced legislation that calls for EHR meaningful use incentives to be extended to behavioral and mental health and substance abuse providers.