U.S. Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) have introduced legislation to make behavioral health professionals eligible for stimulus-funded incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records.

The bill, H.R. 5040, would extend eligibility for incentives to such areas as clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities and mental health treatment facilities.

Kennedy, who has had substance abuse treatment, and Murphy, a psychologist, have teamed for several years to push expanded use of EHRs. The legislation "acknowledges what was established with the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act--that we need to treat illnesses of the brain just as we would ailments of any other part of the body," Kennedy said in a statement.

Text of H.R. 5040, the "Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act," soon will be available at congress.gov.

--Joseph Goedert


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