House Bill Would Include Mental Health Providers in Meaningful Use

June 5, 2015 in News

On Thursday, Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) reintroduced a bill (HR 2646) that would make behavioral health and substance misuse treatment professionals eligible for the meaningful use program, Health Data Management reports. 

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Bill Details

Among other things, the revamped Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would expand the types of professionals eligible to receive meaningful use incentive payments to include:

  • Clinical psychologists; and
  • Licensed social workers.

In addition, the bill would expand the types of eligible hospitals that can receive meaningful use incentive payments to include:

  • Mental health treatment facilities;
  • Psychiatric hospitals; and
  • Substance misuse treatment facilities (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 6/5).

According to Politico‘s “Morning eHealth,” the new bill also updates language on HIPAA to define who qualifies as a caregiver of an individual with mental illness, as well as the type of information they would be able to receive if providers feel the disclosure is necessary to ensure the safety of the patient and others (Allen et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/5).  


Supporters of the bill, such as the Behavioral Health IT Coalition, say the expansion will:

  • Allow hospital emergency departments to more effectively triage patients;
  • Promote integration of psychology and mental health in primary care settings; and
  • Reduce adverse drug-to-drug interactions and duplicative tests.

In a statement, Kevin Scalia, executive vice president of IT vendor Netsmart and a founding member of the Behavioral Health IT Coalition, said, “Coordinated care — made possible in part by EHRs — can improve [behavioral health patients'] quality of life and lower health care costs” (Health Data Management, 6/5).

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