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S.1732 / H.R.3331 - Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act

To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that incentives should be set in place so behavioral health care providers, such as psychologists and psychiatric hospitals, can adopt electronic heath records. Other health care providers already receive such incentives, mental health care providers should too.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You think behavioral health care provides don't need a financial incentive to upgrade their records electronically. This is a waste of taxpayer funds.

The Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act would incentivize behavioral health care providers, like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals, to adopt electronic health records by authorizing certain medicare and medicaid payments.

According to Senator Whitehouse press release on the legislation, the federal government has distributed $38 billion since 2011 in incentive payments to health care providers to adopt electronic health records. Mental and behavioral health providers, such as psychologists, community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, and others that specialize in treating addiction and mental health, have not qualified for such payments. The legislation aims to close this gap with the intent of improving the coordination and quality of care for Americans with mental health, addiction, and other behavioral health care needs.

Specifically, the bill would authorize the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to implement a demonstration program that provides incentive payments to behavioral health care providers for adopting and using electronic health records.

“Electronic records help doctors and other providers make better decisions about their patients’ care. Americans who receive substance abuse and mental health treatment should benefit from that technology, too,” said sponsor of the legislation Sen. Whitehouse. “This bill would test the use of electronic health records by mental health providers to care for patients who too often are left behind. I’m proud that our bipartisan bill has passed the Senate.”

“Senator Whitehouse continues to be a leading and important voice in the efforts to remove barriers and ensure parity in the use of technology for those dealing with issues around behavioral health, predominantly in the treatment of inpatients,” said Mary Marran, president and COO at Butler Hospital, part of the Care New England Health System. “It’s critical that we have the ability to communicate issues easily and effectively, particularly with primary care providers, and this bill goes a long way towards leveling the playing field and making sure those suffering from mental health issues are not treated differently than anyone else.”


Sponsored by: Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI].

Cosponsored by: 2 Rep / 1 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Rep. Jenkins, Lynn [R-KS-2].

Cosponsored by: 7 Rep / 4 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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