House floats bill to incentivize mental health providers to buy EHRs
A bill introduced last week by Reps. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, and Doris Matsui, D-California, would promote incentive payments for behavioral health providers who purchase and adopt electronic health records.
The proposed bill would apply to community mental health centers, public or private psychiatric hospitals, accredited residential or outpatient mental health treatment facilities, accredited substance abuse treatment sites, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers.
The bipartisan legislation is part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center project to promote not only the adoption of certified EHR systems, but to use the technology to improve the coordination and quality of care through health information exchange.
While meaningful use has been successful in increasing EHR adoption, the representatives said that behavioral health providers were excluded from the program and lack the funds to implement full EHRs.
The proposed project would allow congress to avoid expanding meaningful use to cover mental health providers.
“This is another step forward in our work to put mental health on a level playing field with physical health care,” said Matsui in a statement. “By encouraging the use of EHR technology by behavioral health providers, we can improve care coordination and behavioral health integration. That helps ensure patients receive the treatment they need in the right place at the right time.”
The CMS Innovation Center has been considering potential payment and service delivery models focused on behavioral health, as well as telemedicine. CMS will hold a Behavioral Health Payment and Care Delivery Innovation Summit to address workforce challenges in the mental health field and reimbursement for the use of telehealth.