This month, 26 Senators sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (IA) urging committee leadership to include health centers’ technical fix to Medicaid HIT incentive payments in any moving legislation this session. Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Olympia Snowe (ME) led the effort and were joined by 24 fellow health center supporters: Senators Begich and Murkowski (AK), Dodd (CT), Inouye and Akaka (HI), Crapo (ID), Bunning (KY), Kerry (MA), Bond (MO), Hagan (NC), Menendez (NJ), Bingaman and Udall (NM), Schumer and Gillibrand (NY), Sherrod Brown (OH), Wyden (OR), Whitehouse and Reed (RI), Johnson (SD), Leahy and Sanders (VT), Cantwell (WA), and Kohl (WI).
The letter asked the Senate Finance Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the Medicaid HIT incentive payment fix, to include health centers’ technical change in any legislation that advances in the remainder of the 111th Congress. The senators highlighted the value Medicaid HIT incentive payments could bring to health centers but underscored the importance of making the proposed technical correction to current statute in order to ensure that health centers are able to maximize the full value of Congress’ investment. The technical change is one we have blogged about before and would direct State Medicaid Agencies to make HIT incentive payments directly to health centers without requiring each eligible professional to individually reassign their payment over to their health center employer. The letter highlights the challenges the current statute presents to health centers and providers as we move toward implementation: namely, current law will require each health center and provider to renegotiate contracts and impose an administrative burden on health centers and their eligible professionals. The letter stresses that the Senators believe the technical change should have no additional cost while simultaneously helping to streamline and facilitate the adoption and upgrade of electronic health records in health centers nationwide.
Please reach out to personally thank your Senators who signed the Stabenow-Snowe letter (listed above) – these health center champions are helping health centers across the country to improve their HIT systems and patient care and they deserve our public thank yous, supportive op-eds, and ongoing gratitude and appreciation.
This is an important legislative fix for health centers and the NACHC staff continues to work on this issue actively with the goal of inserting our technical HIT fix into a moving vehicle before the lame duck session ends. Stay tuned to the blog for updates and info on this and more as we move through the lame duck session this month.