Montana gets its EHR money back

By Molly Merrill
05:10 PM

The Montana Senate voted to restore the $35 million in federal incentives for electronic medical records for hospitals and community health centers across the state this week.

The Montana legislature initially denied the state's Department of Health and Humans Services (DPHHS) the authority to accept and distribute the money to hospitals four times on party-line votes – making it the only state to do so.

But, under pressure from Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont.) and healthcare providers from across the state, the Senate voted 45-5 for the motion on March 28.

Earlier this month Schweitzer warned lawmakers that they were increasing the cost and lowering the quality of healthcare in Montana by refusing funding for electronic health records technology.

[See also: Governor pleas for state's $35M in EHR incentives.]

The state has 47 critical access hospitals in smaller communities across the state, and almost all will likely qualify for the funding, according to the governor.

"Electronic health record systems save money and improve care through eliminating the need for duplicative testing," Schweitzer said.

Click here to see votes on the HIT funding.