Bill Targets I.T. Loans to Small Outfits

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would authorize $10 billion in loans under the Small Business Administration to help solo and small group practices purchase information technology that supports meaningful use requirements under the federal economic stimulus package.

The Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act, H.R. 3014, would offer a maximum loan of $350,000 for a single eligible professional and a maximum of $2 million for a single group of eligible professionals. The professionals would include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse specialists, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists, among others.

They must be working in an organization that can be classified as a small business under the Small Business Act.

The loans could be used for the purchase and installation of software, hardware and related technologies that:

* Enhance the continuity of care,
* Enhance quality measurement reporting,
* Improve evidence-based decision support, or
* Enhance patient or consumer empowerment.

Providers would not be eligible for loans to purchase applications whose sole use is financial management, maintenance of inventory of basic supplies, or appointment scheduling.

The legislation was referred to the House Committee on Small Business. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), chair of the subcommittee on regulations and healthcare, is the bill sponsor.

Full text of the bill is available at congress.gov.

--Joseph Goedert

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