ACMHA: Action Needed--Senate Considering EHR Funding for BH Providers



When the U.S. Congress created and passed the HITECH Act in 2009, it left out behavioral health providers. That translates into a lack of Electronic Health Record [EHR] funding for everybody from psychiatric hospitals to outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment facilities.


How can the behavioral health field better serve our patients/consumers and enter the 21st Century without Health Information Technology?


Studies overwhelmingly point to a stark clinical reality: people with serious mental health and addiction disorders served in the public behavioral health system have very poor overall health status. They experience sky high rates of co-occurring chronic diseases including asthma, heart disease, cirrhosis, diabetes and COPD.  As a result, our patients/consumers have a life expectancy similar to the citizens of sub-Saharan African nations.


We need the tools to forcefully address this emerging public health crisis. In the modern age, those tools take the form of Electronic Health Records to help us better coordinate care with primary care physicians, hospitals and medical specialists such as cardiologists and endocrinologists.


Congress has an opportunity to help us acquire those tools by acting upon pending bills…..the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1517) and the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coordination Act (S. 1685). While the these measures were introduced separately, both S. 1517 championed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] and S. 1685 introduced by Sen. Rob Portman [R-OH] have a common bipartisan goal: including psychiatric hospitals, Community Mental Health Centers, clinical psychologists and outpatient and inpatient addiction providers in the Medicare and Medicaid payments systems created by the HITECH Act.


We need your help!  Please take 2 minutes to write your Senator and ask him or her to support Behavioral Health Information Technology legislation.


To save lives and improve care, we need modern tools including EHRs. Please join me in taking action today.


Ron Manderschild, ACMHA Leadership