Last week, United States Senator John Kerry sponsored the Medicaid Information Technology to Enhance Community Health Act, also known as the MITECH Act. Sometimes the names of bill introduced in the Senate can be confusing, nevermind the actual bill itself. But, in this case, the name says it all.
The legislation is meant to expand the Meaningful Use (MU) incentives to healthcare facilities that serve low-income areas throughout the country, but do not qualify under the current Medicaid incentive program for adopting electronic medical records (EMR).
According to a recent HealthcareITNews article, the bill is aimed at providing incentives specifically for clinics operated by private non-profit or public entities as a sort of "safety net," with at least 30 percent of patients qualifying as low-income.
The MITECH Act, as presented by the former democratic presidential nominee, is designed to "encourage the adoption and use of certified health record technology by safety net providers and clinics."
The bill has been endorsed by a number of organizations, including the Association of State and Territorial Health Offices, the HIV Medicine Association and the Trust for America's Health.
"Given that Medicaid eligibility levels are so low in many states, it is difficult for many safety net providers to meet the 30 percent Medicaid threshold required to participate in the Medicaid [EMR] incentive program even though their patients are predominantly low-income," Kerry said when introducing the act.
If successfully passed, this bill could open up the doors for smaller medical facilities and practices to embrace new health IT assets in order to better serve low-income communities. Countless EMR consultants, physicians and other medical professionals have long praised the benefits that these initiatives can offer clinics with limited financial resources. Those possibilities may soon become realities and help to strengthen those safety net organizations.