HHS awards $137M to states for health IT, prevention

By Bernie Monegain
02:04 PM
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The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday awarded $137 million to nearly every state to strengthen prevention efforts and to improve public health. Many of the awards include a health IT component, such as immunization information technologies and registries.

"More than ever, it is important to help states fight disease and protect public health," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "These awards are an important investment and will enable states and communities to help Americans quit smoking, get immunized and prevent disease and illness before they start."

The grants will fund key state and local public health programs supported through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Most of the grant money comes from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Additional SAMHSA funds supplement the investment.

"CDC supports state and local public health departments, which are key to keeping America safe from threats to health, safety, and security from this country or anywhere in the world," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. MD. "With these funds, CDC is strengthening our ability to prevent and combat diseases and keep Americans safe against expensive and dangerous health threats."

The awards include:

  • Up to $75 million to fund nine Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment programs over the next five years. These programs will allow communities throughout the nation to provide more comprehensive substance abuse screening, secondary prevention, early intervention and referrals to treatment for people at higher risk for substance abuse. The actual award amounts may vary, depending on the availability of funds and the performance of the grantees.
  • More than $42 million to support: improvements to the Immunization Information Systems (registries) and other immunization information technologies; development of systems to improve billing for immunization services; planning and implementation of adult immunization programs; enhancement of vaccination capacity located in schools; and evaluations of the impact on disease of recent vaccine recommendations for children and adolescents.
  • $9.2 million to eight national non-profit professional public health organizations to assist state, tribal, local and territorial health departments in adopting effective practices that strengthen their core public health systems and service delivery. They will also enhance the workforce by providing jobs in critical disciplines of epidemiology and informatics, thus attracting new talent to public health.  
  • Nearly $5 million to help states and territories enhance and expand the national network of tobacco cessation quitlines to increase the number of tobacco users who quit. Quitlines are the toll-free numbers people can call to obtain smoking cessation treatments and services.
  • $2.6 million to the Emerging Infections Programs around the country to continue improvement in disease monitoring, professional development and training, information technology development and laboratory capacity.
  • $1.5 million to evaluate and prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia to reduce cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and protect Americans from healthcare-associated infectious diseases.
  • $1 million to further enhance the nation's public health laboratories by hiring and preparing scientists for careers in public health laboratories, providing training for scientists, and supporting public health initiatives related to infectious disease research.

A full list of the awards by state and their projects is on the next page.