iHealthBeat, July 21, 2011

When Congress passed legislation in 2009 creating new Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to encourage health care providers to use electronic health records, much of the health care community applauded. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was long overdue recognition of the importance of health IT in improving care for patients, while also reducing healthcare spending. But amid much fanfare for the HITECH Act, a notable group of providers was left with little to cheer about. The nation's mental health and addiction treatment providers were excluded from the incentive payments. So while some providers continue to be offered financial incentives to use health IT to increase health care quality, reduce medical errors and better coordinate care, providers at psychiatric hospitals, mental health and addiction treatment facilities, and community mental health centers are being told to fend for themselves.

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