FUNDING MENTAL and BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
Mental and behavioral healthcare are critical to our nation’s wellbeing, economic sustainability, and cultural vibrancy. But all too often the funding for exactly this kind of care is restricted, insufficient, or altogether absent. So what do we think about the potential of increased funding for community behavioral health organizations to improve quality of care and implement electronic health records? Yes please!
INCREASING FUNDING for MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
In March, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat-RI) re-introduced the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2011, a bill that would expand federal health information technology (HIT) payments to previously ineligible community behavioral health providers and organizations.
photo via Little Pink Clubhouse
Currently some providers are eligible to receive incentive payments for adopting health IT (like psychiatrists) but other behavioral healthcare providers are not (like social workers or psychologists). It was originally introduced in 2010 by the Senator and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 12 Senators. Sadly, it did not make it through the legislative process before Congress adjourned.
WHO THE MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE FUNDING IMPACTS
If passed, the bill would expand federal incentive payments for the adoption of health information to behavioral and mental health professionals, psychiatric hospitals, mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities. In other words, by expanding HIT incentive payments to behavioral health providers, the legislation will provide much-needed funding for community behavioral health organizations as they seek to implement electronic health records and improve care quality. We’re all about that!
HOW TO GET FUNDING INCREASED
But how to get it passed? Senator Whitehouse is seeking additional cosponsors so as to build support for the legislation. If you reach out to your Senators and tell them why it’s important to you for them to sign on to the bill then this funding can move from dream to reality. And that’s something we all want.