Legislators Introduce Act for Behavioral Health IT Adoption

The bipartisan act would provide $20 million a year in grant funding over five fiscal years to finance behavioral health IT adoption.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), and Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) have introduced an act to support behavioral health providers’ efforts to adopt health IT systems.

Previous federal funding efforts to promote the adoption of EHRs have historically excluded mental health and substance use disorder providers. The Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) Coordination Act aims to deliver targeted funding to ensure behavioral health providers can invest in health IT for integrated, patient-centered care.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it is essential that behavioral health care providers have the same access to the technology and electronic health records that other practices utilize daily,” Masto said in a public statement. “This bipartisan bill will help improve the quality of behavioral health care for Nevadans across the state.”

The bill would provide $20 million a year in grant funding over five fiscal years (FY25-29) to finance behavioral health IT adoption through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

The act would also:

  • Require ONC to submit a report to Congress on the number and type of behavioral healthcare providers that receive the grant, their ability to electronically exchange patient health information with other provider types, and clinical and non-clinical patient outcomes.
  • Direct ONC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop voluntary behavioral health IT standards.
  • Direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), SAMHSA, and ONC to create joint guidance on how states can use Medicaid authorities and funding to promote the adoption of certified EHR technology among behavioral health providers.

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