Will Rural Pols Cheer or Jeer $12M in Hospital IT Grants?

February 8, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

Before, during and since his State of the Union address last month, President Obama has been emphasizing infrastructure investments as a high priority for his administration.  That priority folds neatly into Obama’s recent focus on innovation as a differentiator for the nation and its businesses, identifying it as a potential catalyst for the country’s emergence from the recent recession. Today, another reminder of the administration’s emphasis on innovation and infrastructure investments hit the streets as HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced $12 million in technical assistance awards to help critical access and rural hospitals transition to using electronic health records.

Funding for the awards is provided through the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act, which is part of the Recovery Act. The HITECH Act created Medicare and Medicaid incentives for eligible entities that transition to utilizing electronic health records technology, as well as funding through ONC’s Regional Extension Center program for technical assistance, guidance and best practices info to critical access and rural hospitals that are making the switch.  According to HHS’ press release on today’s awards, the 62 nonprofit RECs established since February 2010 support 1,777 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country.

Information about the REC program and its grant recipients is available at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/rec_awards_02082011.html

Are you or your community involved with or impacted by an REC?  Tell us about it!

Will these types of programs help the Obama administration win over some lawmakers and constituents from rural areas?  Will such investments be difficult for the president’s Congressional opponents from rural states to criticize?  Or will he be taken to the woodshed for promoting incentives for higher Medicaid and Medicare payouts?

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