Advocacy Alert: Federal Money: EHRs, Opioid Alternatives, and SUE Workforce Loans

August 2, 2018

HB 3331: Electronic Health Record Technology Adoption

On July 20, 2017, Representative Lynn Jenkins introduced HB 3331 with 13 co-sponsors. The bill, if passed, will amend Title XI of the Social Security Act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adopting and using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.

This bill specifies that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation may test models for providing payment incentives to behavioral health providers who adopt EHR technology and use it to improve the quality and coordination of care.

On July 12, 2018, it passed the House and moved to the Senate for discussion, and has since been read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

BHAP supports this bill, as it will provide funding for behavioral health programs. Using EHRs is already a requirement, and has been law for almost two years. However, many programs can't do it because they are too small and is therefore not cost effective. If passed, this bill would let those programs apply for a waiver in order to adopt this technology.

We encourage you to reach out to your representative and show your support of this funding bill.

HB 5197: ALTO Act Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act

Meanwhile, on March 7, 2018, Representative Bill Pascrell introduced HB 5197 with 24 co-sponsors. The bill, if passed, would require and provide funds for the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out a three-year demonstration program. This program would award grants to hospitals and emergency departments to develop, implement, enhance, or study alternative pain management protocols and treatments that promote limited use of opioids in emergency departments.

On June 12, 2018, it passed the House and moved to the Senate for discussion, and has since been read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

BHAP has no official position on this bill, as the bill doesn't specify where the funds will be coming from. We encourage you to reach out to your representative and make sure the bill specifies how it gets funded.

HB 5102: Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018

Finally, on February 27, 2018, Representative Katherine Clark introduced HB 5102 with 27 co-sponsors. The bill, if passed, would amend the Public Health Service Act to create a loan repayment program. Individuals who complete a period of service in a substance use disorder treatment job in areas that are suffering a shortage of mental health professionals or in a county where the drug overdose death rate is higher than the national average would be eligible for this repayment program.

The repayment program would pay one-sixth the principal and interest on any eligible loan for each year of service, with a maximum total amount of repayment of $250,000 per person. The person would also have to enter into an agreement of service of up to six years with the Health Resources and Services Administration. Finally, the substance use disorder job must be a full-time position where the primary intent and function is the direct care of patients with or in recovery from a substance use disorder.

On June 12, 2018, the bill passed the House and moved to the Senate for discussion, and has since been read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

BHAP supports this bill, as it is good for the industry. This is basically a student loan program, and will help bring in new talent in an industry that is currently suffering from a shortage. We encourage you to reach out to your representative and show your support of this bill.

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