Proposed bill would help psychologists, psychiatrists adopt to electronic filing

Sen. Rob Portman last week introduced a bill that would help psychologists and psychiatrists adopt electronic health records.

The bill, which Portman, R-Ohio, cosponsored with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, would extend federal incentives to adopt electronic health technology to behavioral health care providers, improving the coordination and quality of care for Americans with mental health, addiction, and other behavioral health care needs.

The federal government has distributed more than $37 billion since 2011 in incentive payments to health care providers to adopt electronic health records. But psychologists, community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, and others that specialize in treating addiction and mental health conditions do not qualify for this funding.Portman and Whitehouse say this has contributed to a gap in the rates of adoption of health information technology between providers that qualify for federal electronic health record programs and those that do not, like behavioral health providers.

Their bill would allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center to implement a demonstration program that provides incentive payments for adopting electronic health records to behavioral health care providers.

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