Kerry proposes meaningful use bill

By Anthony Brino
11:09 AM

U.S. Senator John Kerry is sponsoring legislation that would expand Meaningful Use financial incentives for providers that serve predominantly lower-income Americans but don’t qualify for the Medicaid EHR incentive program.

Called the Medicaid Information Technology to Enhance Community Health Act, or the MITECH Act, the bill would expand eligibility for MU incentives for providers operating as qualified safety net clinics, defined as a clinic or clinic network operated by a private non-profit or public organization with lower income patients accounting for at least 30 percent of their service. 

“Given that Medicaid eligibility levels are so low in many states, it is difficult for many safety net providers to meet the 30 percent Medicaid threshold required to participate in the Medicaid EHR incentive program even though their patients are predominantly low-income,” Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in the Congressional Record.

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services would develop a methodology for qualified clinics to be eligible for MU  payments, similar to the current process for hospitals.

The bill has been endorsed by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the HIV Medicine Association, Mental Health America, the National Association of Public Hospitals, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association and the Trust for America’s Health, Kerry said.

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