Biden, Sebelius, Blumenthal announce funding for EMR extension centers, HIE

Vice President Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal are in Chicago today to announce $1.2 billion in federal grants to promote EMR use and interoperability. The money represents the bulk of the $2 billion in stimulus funds allocated to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Of the $1.2 billion, the administration plans to spend $589 million on health IT extension centers to assist hospitals physician practices in selecting and implementing EMRs. The other $564 million will go to encourage health information exchanges and help build the Nationwide Health Information Network. "Electronic health records can help reduce medical errors, make healthcare more efficient and improve the quality of medical care for all Americans. These grants will help ensure more doctors and hospitals have the tools they need to use this critical technology," Sebelius says.

The administration officials are speaking at Mount Sinai Hospital, an aging facility in an impoverished West Side neighborhood, where just 7 percent of patients have commercial insurance. Biden is leading a roundtable discussion on comprehensive healthcare reform, focusing, in part, on health IT infrastructure, his office says.

For more information:
- read this Associated Press story in the Washington Post
- check out the Chicago Tribune's preview of the event (reg. req.)
- see these excerpted remarks from Biden and Sebelius, as reported by Time