For Immediate Release - February 18, 2010

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION HIGHLIGHTS SUCCESS OF ARRA FUNDING, $24 MILLION IN NEW FEDERAL HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT

Beneficiaries of Recovery Funding Discuss Impact at Roundtable Event

BOSTON - Thursday, February 18, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick today highlighted the impact of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding on creating and retaining jobs across the Commonwealth during a visit to the Joseph Smith Community Health Center in Allston. The event featured a roundtable discussion with people who have benefited from ARRA funding, including clients, representatives and employees of the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School, the Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center, Boston ABCD, Dorchester House and Community Action Agency of Somerville.

These organizations benefited from a variety of ARRA funding commitments, including afterschool tutoring programs; renewable energy research and development; Head Start Child Care Development Fund grants; Community Services Block Grants for weatherization assistance; and capital improvement funds for Community Health Centers.

In addition to the roundtable, Governor Patrick highlighted the future impact of $24 million in federal grants to support health information technology initiatives across the state. These funds, in collaboration with the Mass e-health Institute (MeHI), will be used to advance the implementation of Health Information Technology by physicians and hospitals throughout the Commonwealth.

"Massachusetts is a national leader in health care reform and home to some of the best health care institutions and most innovative health technology companies in the world," said Governor Patrick. "This federal funding will help reduce health care costs and improve patient care using proven technologies, many of which are developed right here in Massachusetts."

"As we continue to focus on the Commonwealth's economic recovery and strategies for long-term growth, federal stimulus grants supporting the health information technology industry will help Massachusetts by creating more jobs in the IT industry while also increasing efficiencies in our health care system," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.

The Commonwealth received a $13.4 million grant to support the implementation of electronic health records for approximately 2,500 health care providers in small group practices across the state and an additional $10.6 million grant to support the development of a secure network to support a statewide health information exchange.

Electronic records enable providers to have instant access to vital information about a patient's lab results and medical history that may impact treatment decisions. These proven technologies help reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary or duplicative tests, reducing errors and improving health care decision-making.

In November 2009, Governor Patrick met with officials in Washington to advance specific opportunities for Massachusetts to speed the deployment of electronic medical records through a secure health information exchange network that would safeguard patient privacy. With strong advocacy from Governor Patrick and the Congressional Delegation, the Commonwealth has been allocated the full $24 million for which the state is eligible from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Electronic medical records and a statewide information exchange are the common sense solution to reducing medical errors, restraining costs, and reforming a broken system that isn't efficient for doctors, nurses, or patients. This investment will help ensure that our state's hospitals remain the best in the world," said Senator John Kerry.

"This federal funding for Health information technology is great news for patients and health care providers in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has been a pioneer in developing technologies that improve the way health information is used to support better patient care," said Congressman Edward J. Markey. "This vital federal funding will provide doctors and qualified health professionals with the technological tools they need to protect patients from disease while still protecting their privacy. As the author of comprehensive health IT legislation in 2008, I strongly supported funding for health IT when Congress considered it as part of the Economic Recovery Act last year. At the time, I attached privacy and security safeguards so that patients would not have to compromise their medical privacy to reap the benefits of electronic medical records."

"This funding will assist the Commonwealth in providing support, guidance and information in order to accelerate the development of cutting-edge health information technology across the state. These systems are both good for health practices and for patients, and overall are important to control costs and to enhance safety in health care. It is great to see our health programs benefiting from these Recovery Act funds," said Congressman John Tierney.

"I am pleased to see Massachusetts receive federal funding for health information technology," said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. "These grants will help cut costs, streamline our healthcare system and improve patient care."

"Federal investment in our health infrastructure is essential," said Congressman Mike Capuano. "It will help Massachusetts stay on the cutting edge of health care initiatives and improve communication between health care providers. The end result will be better patient care, and a reduction in health care costs."

"Harnessing health information technologies leads to better, more coordinated care for patients," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "As the national leader on health care reform, Massachusetts is now poised to use this investment of federal funding to build on our accomplishments by using technology to promote coordinated patient care and control costs."

Governor Patrick previously designated MeHI, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, as the state entity to administer federal funding for health care technologies through ARRA.

"Having a uniform system of electronic medical records throughout the Commonwealth decreases costs and improves patient care," said Senate President Therese Murray, one of the architects of Massachusetts' health care reform law. "One of the key components to the success of our cost containment law is that every provider is able to comply with the mandate and this federal funding will help us move this health care goal forward."

"This federal funding gives Massachusetts the opportunity to drive down health care costs while providing more efficient care to our patients," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. "The Massachusetts e-Health Institute has the level of expertise necessary to successfully serve as the Regional Extension Center here in Massachusetts. Their diligence in developing a statewide plan of implementation positions them to hit the ground running with this federal funding, and I applaud their achievements thus far."

"Expanding the use and efficiency of electronic medical records is exactly the kind of project for which federal stimulus funding can be used to the greatest benefit," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair, Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight. "I am extremely pleased that the Commonwealth will continue to lead the nation in innovative healthcare reform. Electronic medical records will simultaneously drive down costs, while improving the quality of health care by enabling greater accessibility of information for healthcare providers and continuity of care for patients."

"Securing this funding will help ensure that we not only can implement the technology to improve patient care but will also help us do so in a way that will maintain patient privacy. Streamlining the process through which consumers and health professionals access information can lead to faster decision making and reduce overall costs," said Representative David P. Linsky, House Chair, Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight.

"We must ensure that all healthcare providers have access to electronic records; it is crucial so that the state can continue to provide high quality and efficient healthcare," said State Senator Steven A. Tolman. "Securing this funding will guarantee that innovative partners such as the Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center have the tools necessary to lower healthcare costs, improve quality, and enable healthcare providers to offer the best services to their patients."

"This funding will help all of my constituents who use Joseph M. Smith and other area health care facilities get higher quality, more efficient care," said State Representative Mike Moran.

"This funding will enable the Joseph Smith Health Center to utilize technology that improves health care cost and efficiencies, enhancing their extraordinary work in providing quality patient care to our working class community," said State Representative Kevin G. Honan.

"Our strategy is to tap into the world-class institutions and groups that are successfully implementing these technologies in provider settings throughout the state," said Richard Shoup, Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts e-Health Institute. "We will work to maximize the public benefits of electronic health records for patients and providers in Massachusetts."

ARRA includes significant provisions pertaining to health information technology. These provisions are referred to as the HITECH Act. The HITECH Act establishes as a goal the use of certified electronic health records for every person in the United States by 2014 and creates reimbursement incentives through Medicare and Medicaid for providers who demonstrate they are "meaningful users" of electronic health records connected through health information exchanges.

Additional information about the HITECH grants available through the workforce development program is available at http://HealthIT.HHS.gov/ and www.grants.gov.

To learn more about Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment efforts and results please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

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