The BHIT Coalition supports the following legislation:

  • SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6 Section 6001) sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR). 

  • Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1732) sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

  • To Amend Title XI of SSA to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified EHR technology (H.R. 3331) sponsored by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)

  • Integrating Behavioral Health Through Technology Act of 2016 (S. 2691)  sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

  • Behavioral Health Information Technology Coordination Act of 2013 (S. 1685) sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).

  • Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2013 (H.R.2957) sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA-18).

  • Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 (H.R. 3717) (BHIT section) sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA-18).

  • Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2013 (S. 1517) sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Background of HITECH Act

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act significantly expanded the U.S. government’s efforts to establish a national electronic health records (EHRs) system. Such a system would enable authorized health care professionals and hospitals to, among other things, access centralized information such as lab test results and medication lists to provide safer and more efficient patient care. The Act includes significant protections for mental health record confidentiality.

The Act authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide a reimbursement incentive for physician and hospital providers who are successful in becoming “meaningful users” of electronic health record (EHRs). These incentive payments began in January 2011, and will gradually phase down by 2016. Starting in 2015, providers are expected to be actively utilizing EHRs in compliance with the meaningful use definition or they will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare.

Unfortunately, the Act excluded psychologists and most other non-physician providers from receiving Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments and grant funds to adopt EHRs. The Act defines eligible professionals as medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic, dentists, dental surgeons, podiatrists, optometrists and chiropractors. Though incentives are offered in the early years, failure to meet the meaningful use requirements within four years will result in penalties against eligible professionals. The Final Rule for the Act went into effect July 28, 2010.

Policy Agenda

The BHIT Coalition promotes a mental health and addiction policy agenda that strongly supports interoperable, electronic health records for both primary and behavioral health care providers as follows:

  • The inclusion of mental health and substance use treatment providers and facilities in the HITECH Act with the goal of increasing the likelihood that Medicare and Medicaid patients receiving effective, high-quality care from well-trained and licensed mental and behavioral health professionals in a setting designed to meet their specific and unique needs.

  • Recognizing mental health professionals as eligible “meaningful users” under the law will promote integration of psychology and mental health in primary care settings, reduce adverse drug to drug interactions, reduce duplicative tests, and provide necessary information to the emergency department at hospitals to triage patients more effectively.

The BHIT Coalition and partners submit letters of support and comments to Congressional Committees, Congressman, and Federal Agencies.

Active Lobbying on Legislation

Regular meetings with Congressional staff to discuss the value of including behavioral health care providers to the HITECH Act.

Letters of Support/Comments

Other Resources

December 3, 2014 Senate Staff Briefing

"Behavioral Health Information Technology: A Tool to Save Money and Improve Quality Care"

July 22, 2014 Senate Staff Briefing

"Behavioral Health Information Technology: A Tool to Save Money and Improve Quality Care"

March 12, 2013 Senate Staff Briefing

"Behavioral Health Information Technology: A Tool to Save Money and Improve Quality Care"

July 20, 2011 Senate Staff Briefing

"Saving Money and Lives: A Briefing on Behavioral Health Information Technology"