In the economic stimulus legislation recently signed by President Obama (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), the U.S. Congress has provided the health care industry with more than $17 billion in incentives to acquire and implement electronic health record (EHR) technology and the associated infrastructure.
The HITECH Act (“Act”) portion of the stimulus includes major incentives for, among others:
- Hospital systems;
- Individual physician practices (not affiliated with hospitals);
- Universities and institutions of higher learning;
- Health Information Exchanges (HIEs); and
- States and certain state-designated entities.
In addition to the incentives, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will have broad discretion in determining the amounts of grants, loans or subsidies extended to potential beneficiaries. HHS will also propose a set of procedures for claiming or applying for such assistance, to be published in the Federal Register for comment.