States get health IT funding boost

Several states received funding for Health IT projects and job training last week. The boost comes as part of a $100 billion provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to spur job creation in growing industries by investing in science, innovation and technology, officials said. A combination of grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), totaling more than $1 billion, are being used for Health IT and healthcare infrastructures projects, including the adoption of electronic medial records, job training and job creation.

In a recent announcement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, outlining how the grants would be used and dispersed, the two agencies had high hopes for results. “Health information technology can make our health care system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive,” said Secretary Sebelius. “These grant awards, the first of their kind, will help develop our electronic infrastructure and give doctors and other health care providers the support they need as they adopt this powerful technology.”

California received the most funding with $100 million going to build up their health information exchange and train workers for thousands of healthcare positions throughout the state. Of that $100 million, $70 million comes in technology infrastructure grants from Heath and Human Services (HHS) to build and maintain a modern, secure health information exchange system. The other $30 million comes from Department of Labor (DOL) grants designed for job training and placement programs for both health IT and healthcare positions. According to Governor Schwarzenegger, “the health IT grants will help California build a world class system to promote and expand the way information is shared, protecting medical privacy, promoting efficiency and will ultimately help reduce health care costs.”

The funding breakdown is available in a press release that went out last Friday.

Additionally, Ohio received $43 million in funding to the Ohio Health Information Partnership a non-profit entity set up by the state to manage its health IT development and job training. The funds will be split between the creation of a health information exchange, adoption of electronic medical records and job training. Ohio hopes its plans will lower healthcare costs and improve care, “the health information exchange will give providers an opportunity to lower costs and improve quality for patients across the state,” Governor Strickand said in a press release.

Other large grants provided $26.5 million for North Carolina and $25.6 million in funding for Massachusetts to advance their health information exchanges and to help physicians adopt electronic health records in their practices.

Several other sates received funding including:

  • $24 million for health information exchange development in Virgina
  • $18.8 million for health information exchange development in Illinois
  • $16 million for healthcare job training in Washington
  • $13 million for healthcare job training in Missouri
  • $13 million to promote health IT infrastructure in New Mexico
  • $11.5 million for healthcare job training and health IT planning in Maine
  • $10 million to expand health information exchange in Kentucky
  • $3.4 million for healthcare job training in Iowa