Added Electronic Medical Records Funding For Critical Access and Rural Hospital Announced

Updated: February 09, 2011

The new funds are intended to help the 1,777 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country, headquartered in the District of Columbia qualify for substantial EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid. For a listing of the award recipients for the grants announced today, see here. The intent of this supplement is to provide additional technical support to critical access and rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds in selecting and implementing EHR systems primarily within the outpatient setting. This funding is in addition to the $20 million provided to RECs in September 2010 to provide technical assistance to the CAHs and Rural Hospitals.

The new funding is provided under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The HITECH Act created the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, which will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Incentives totaling as much as $27.4 billion over 10 years could be expended under the program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In addition, the HITECH Act provided $2 billion through ONC to support technical assistance, training, and demonstration projects to assist in the nation's transition to EHRs.

The additional CAHs and rural hospital funding will be administered through ONC's Regional Extension Center (REC) program. The RECs are specifically designed to offer a wide range of hands-on technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care providers' efforts to become meaningful users of certified EHRs under the Medicare and Medicaid incentives programs. A total of 62 RECs are located throughout the country. This additional funding is being awarded 48 RECs serving CAH and rural hospitals provides in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country.

Today's $12 million round of awards will result in a total of approximately $32 million of funding provided to the RECs to support CAH health IT adoption.

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