Urge Your U.S. House Member and Senators to Support The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (H.R. 6043/S. 539)

What You Need To Do

Please call your U.S. Representative and Senators today and ask them to cosponsor the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (H.R. 6043 in the House and S. 539 in the Senate). You can find your U.S. Representative by visiting http://www.house.gov/representatives/and your U.S. Senators at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

 

If your Representative is on either the House Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committees, or if your Senator sits on the Senate Finance Committee, it is especially important that they hear from you. A list of committee memberships is copied below.

What You Need to Know

  •  The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act would amend current law to make certain providers of addiction and mental health services eligible for health information technology (HIT) funds. These funds would include HIT resources provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) which allocated funds to many health service providers but excluded most providers of addiction and mental health services from eligibility.
  • H.R. 6043 is awaiting review in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. S. 539 is awaiting review in the Senate Finance Committee. Full text and status of H.R. 6043and S. 539 can be found at: http://thomas.loc.gov.
  • Current co-sponsors of H.R. 6043 include: Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Charles Dent (R-PA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Sam Graves (R-MO), Gene Green (D-TX), Brent Guthrie (R-KY), Larry Kissell (D-NC), David Loebsack (D-IA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), Chris Murphy (D-CT),Tim Murphy (R-PA), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Chris Smith (R-NJ), John Sullivan (R-OK), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), and John Tierney (D-MA).
  • Current co-sponsors of S. 539 include: Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
  • To ensure that the legislation quickly moves toward passage, additional bi-partisan co-sponsors of H.R. 6043and S. 539 are needed today.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call Gabrielle de la Gueronniere or Dan Belnap at Legal Action Center, (202) 544-5478. Thank you for your help!

 

Summary of The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act

 

The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives, as H.R.6043, as in the Senate, as S. 539. H.R. 6043/S. 539 would amend current law to make certain providers of addiction and mental health services eligible for health information technology (HIT) funds. These funds would include HIT resources provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which allocated HIT funds to many health service providers but excluded most providers of addiction and mental health services from eligibility.In particular,the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act would:

  • Make substance abuse professionals and substance abuse treatment facilities, behavioral and mental health professionals and clinics, and psychiatric hospitals eligible for ARRA incentive funds for the “meaningful use” of electronic health records;
  • Extend eligibility for Medicaid HIT implementation funds to certain mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities (those facilities with at least ten percent of their patient volume receiving Medicaid), private and public psychiatric hospitals, and workforce professionals including certain clinical psychologists and clinical social workers; and
  • Extend eligibility for Medicare HIT payment incentives to certain physicians, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers, and certain psychiatric hospitals.

The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act would also authorize a $15 million grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology that would be available to mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities and certain psychiatric hospitals. These grant funds could be used to:

 

  • Facilitate the purchase and enhance the use of HIT;
  • Train personnel in the use of HIT;
  • Improve the secure electronic exchange of health information among mental health and addiction workforce professionals and other health care providers, including primary care providers;
  • Improve HIT for adaptation to “community-based behavioral health settings”;
  • Assist with the implementation of telemedicine, including facilitation of distance clinical consultations in rural and underserved areas; and
  • Collaborate and integrate with HIT regional extension centers.

 

H.R. 6043 was referred to the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees where the legislation awaits review, and S. 539 awaits review in the Senate Finance Committee. Full text and status of the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act can be found at: http://thomas.loc.gov.

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