Urge Your Senators To Cosponsor The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709)

Legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709), would extend financial incentives for adopting health information technology including electronic health records to mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities. Establishing an interoperable system of electronic health information is critical to encouraging greater care coordination among mental health, primary and other health care providers as well as increased engagement of consumers in managing their own care. Both of these goals are key to improving treatment outcomes and overall health.

Background

Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided $20 billion in incentives and grants to healthcare providers and hospitals to establish interoperable electronic health record (EHR) systems throughout the United States, mental health and addiction treatment facilities, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and psychiatric hospitals were excluded. By extending financial incentives to behavioral health providers and facilities, S. 3709 would enable behavioral health providers and facilities to engage in the electronic exchange of health information and improve the health and safety of individuals in need of behavioral health services.

Mental health and addiction treatment providers including clinical psychologists and social workers, psychiatric hospitals, outpatient mental health and addiction treatment clinics, all provide critical health care services but are often under-funded and under-reimbursed for their services. It will be extremely difficult for them to implement expensive new technologies without the assistance that Congress recognized as crucial to encouraging implementation of HIT by other kinds of providers—many of whom do not struggle as much with inadequate funding and reimbursement.

By extending financial incentives to behavioral health providers and facilities, S. 3709 would enable behavioral health providers and facilities to engage in the electronic exchange of health information and improve the health and safety of individuals in need of behavioral health services.

S. 3709, introduced by Sen. Whitehouse and cosponsored by, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Reed (D-R.I.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), is the Senate companion to H.R. 5040, a bill introduced by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA). It would:

1)     Clarify the definition of “health care provider” throughout the section of ARRA addressing HIT to include behavioral health providers including mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral and mental health clinics, and substance use treatment facilities;

2)     Establish grants for those mental health treatment facilities not eligible for the ARRA incentives for HIT, supporting the purchase of certified HIT, training of medical staff in the use of HIT, and improvements in the secure exchange of health information between mental health and addiction treatment providers and other health care providers; and

3)     Extend Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for meaningful use of electronic health records to clinical psychologists and social workers, psychiatric hospitals, mental health treatment facilities, and substance use treatment facilities.

It is critical that you tell your Senators to cosponsor The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709) to improve care coordination and overall quality of care and encourage mental health and addiction treatment providers to implement HIT and engage in the appropriate, privacy-protected exchange of electronic health information.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Contact your Senators—by calling the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask them to cosponsor The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709), and/or
  • Complete the “Email Your legislator” form by taking the following steps:  

* = Required Fields

*

*

*

*


*

*

*

*

*


Send This Message

*

Dear [Decision Maker],

As a behavioral health advocate, I urge you to cosponsor The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709), which would extend financial incentives for adopting health information technology including electronic health records to mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities.

S. 3709 is needed to improve care coordination and overall quality of care and encourage mental health and addiction treatment providers to implement HIT and engage in the appropriate, privacy-protected exchange of electronic health information.

*

Please cosponsor The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 3709).

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]

   Please leave this field empty