House bill expands Meaningful Use incentives to behavioral health docs

A bill has been introduced in the House to extend the Meaningful Use incentive program to eligible providers who provide mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment. 

The bill, H.R. 6043, introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (D-Pa.), would change the definition of eligible professional to include those who provide such services, as well as clinical psychologists, licensed social workers, psychiatric hospitals, and residential and outpatient treatment programs. It has been referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce.

This is not the first time that the Meaningful Use incentive program has been expanded to include more types of providers. Federal legislation modified the definition of "hospital based physician" in 2010 to include physicians who worked in emergency rooms after it was pointed out that these physicians were not necessarily part of the hospital's electronic health record system.

CMS also expanded the Medicaid EHR incentive payment program to physician assistants who lead rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers, although that applies only to about 6,000 out of the 81,000 physician assistants overall. A bill was introduced in the House in 2011 to expand the Medicaid incentive program to all physician assistants.

It is unknown if or how incentive bonuses and penalties of the program would be applied to newly eligible providers should the new bill become law. Murphy, a psychologist, introduced a similar bill with Rep. Patrick Kennedy in 2010.

To learn more:
- read the bill
- learn more about the physician assistant issue