HITECH Act Summary
On February 17, 2009 the $787 Billion, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by the federal government. Included in this law is $22 Billion of which $19.2 Billion is intended to be used to increase the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by physicians and hospitals; this portion of the bill is called, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or the HITECH Act. The government firmly believes in the benefits of using electronic health records and is ready to invest federal resources to proliferate its use. Title XIII in Division A, pages 112 through 165 and Title IV in Division B, pages 353 through 398, cover the HITECH Act portion of this economic recovery act..
HITECH Act Funds Allocation
- $18 billion through the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement systems as incentives for hospitals and physicians who are “meaningful users” of EHR systems.
- $2 billion to the Office of the National Coordinator for infrastructure necessary to allow for, and promote, the electronic exchange and use of health information for each individual in the United States; updating the Department of Health & Human Services’ technologies to allow for the electronic flow of information; integrating health IT education into the training of healthcare professionals; and, promoting interoperable clinical data repositories.
- $1 billion to be made available for renovation and repair of health centers and for the acquisition of health IT systems.
- $550 million for – among other things – the purchase of equipment and services including, but not limited to, health IT within Indian Health Service facilities.
- $400 million for comparative effectiveness research on how use of electronic data impacts healthcare treatments and strategies.
- $300 million to support regional and sub-national efforts towards health information exchange.
- $40 million to be used by the Social Security Administration to use EHRs to submit disability claims..
Determining Policies and Standards
Located within the Department of HHS is the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). Created by Executive Order in 2004, it was legislatively mandated in the ARRA. Through the HITECH Act, the ONC was to adopt an initial set of HIT standards, and create an incentive program for meaningful users of EHR certified technology. The ONC created two new Federal Advisory committees, the HIT Policy and HIT Standards committees .
The HIT Policy Committee is charged with making recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on a policy framework for the development and adoption of a nationwide health information infrastructure, including standards for the exchange of patient medical information.