Are behavioral hospitals under an 'unfunded mandate' to adopt EHRs?

Behavioral hospitals have received short shrift when it comes to electronic health records and Meaningful Use, according to Edmund Billings, chief medical officer of Medsphere Systems Corporation. Billings, in a recent blog post, says that several laws--including the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act--will increase the number of individuals who will receive behavioral health services; to meet the increased demand, psychiatric hospitals will need to adopt EHRs.

However, since they're not part of the Meaningful Use program, these hospitals don't qualify for incentive payments. This, Billings says, amounts to an "unfunded mandate," and is why only 2 percent of behavioral hospitals have adopted the systems. Billings suggests that excluding behavioral hospitals from the program is "to the detriment of society as a whole" and recommends that these hospitals receive EHR support. Blog post