L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, joined more than 30 other health care organizations asking Congress extend the deadline for the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (HITECH) Act. In a letter this week to congressional leadership, the organizations specifically asked that the deadline be extended from September 30, 2021 to September 30, 2023.
This is not a request for new funding, but a request for more time to utilize the funds already allocated to safety net providers for technology investments. These investments help providers expand the capabilities of their practices, which results in improved clinical quality, lower costs, and a better patient experience.
The HITECH Act, signed into law in 2009, provided funding to support two programs that would promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. One program helps doctors adopt and use Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and connect to health information exchanges. The other provides incentive payments for eligible Medicaid providers who have adopted or upgraded EHR systems and have demonstrated meaningful use of them.
Unfortunately, many of the HITECH projects are on hold as resources are diverted to pandemic-related issues. Medicaid practices that originally allocated financial resources for technology investments are now using that money to purchase protective equipment for clinical staff and to pay for operational expenses as revenues have fallen. Many of these providers may not be able to commit funding to technology investments before the original deadline. Without Congressional action on the deadline, these providers will no longer have the HITECH funding to implement the technological upgrades.
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.1 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County's low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.