Bi-partisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House would permit behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals and facilities to participate in the electronic health records meaningful use program.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in March 2011 introduced a similar bill, S. 539, in the Senate. The new House legislation has sponsorship from Democrats Tim Murphy (PA) and Tim Ryan (OH), and Republicans Marsha Blackburn (TN), Tom Marino (PA), John Sullivan (OK) and Pat Tiberi (OH).

The House bill, H.R. 6043, would amend the definition of “Eligible Professional” to include behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, and residential and outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities. It also specifically includes clinical psychologists and licensed social workers as eligible for meaningful use incentives. Currently, behavioral health organizations can qualify only through physicians and nurse practitioners affiliated with the facilities.

Text of H.R. 6043 soon will be available at congress.gov and the Senate bill is on the site.

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