For decades, human services providers have received significantly lower levels of funding and reimbursement rates vs. their primary/acute care counterparts. This lack of parity is exacerbated by the substantial increase in demand for services placed on behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, largely driven by the broad-based impact of the nationwide opioid crisis.

Netsmart’s mantra, “cause connected, passionate about opportunity and obligation,” extends to advocacy on behalf of our clients for funding at the federal level. We have long advocated for the value of incentivizing electronic health record (EHR) adoption and use for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers.

A bright spot has just emerged in this ongoing effort. On July 20, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3331 in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation recommends the creation of a pilot program within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to award health IT incentives for the adoption of EHR technology, and use of that technology to improve the quality and coordination of care for some of the most expensive populations in healthcare through the electronic exchange of health information.

Eligible providers would include psychiatric hospitals, community behavioral health centers, residential and outpatient mental health and substance use treatment facilities, clinical psychologists and social workers. Netsmart played a substantial role in advocating for this legislation, and is now engaged in efforts to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

This pilot program would be another step in the broader goal of making authorized data more accessible to all providers involved in a person’s care to improve overall health for all. The resulting care coordination and ability to streamline processes and workflow also supports CMMI’s goal of reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Community-based behavioral health providers, addiction treatment facilities and psychiatric hospitals must be able to adopt health information technology at roughly the same rate as hospitals and doctors nationwide. If not, care coordination across the spectrum of human services, primary care and long-term post-acute care will rapidly become impossible – compromising quality of care and increasing costs.

Leadership and technology for care coordination and care management is a major strategic focus of Netsmart, and we will continue to advocate on behalf our clients in these key areas.

For more information about this other legislative and regulatory advocacy by Netsmart, visit our public policy webpage.