US announces $235M for community
WASHINGTON – Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and David Blumenthal, MD, the
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, have announced
US$235 million in grants supporting non-profit organizations and local
governments that can exemplify the positive impact of healthcare IT on
HHS will soon be offering $220 million in grants to qualified local
governments and non-profits that are building healthcare exchange and
fostering meaningful use of IT in their communities, Blumenthal said. An
additional $10 million will go toward covering the administrative costs
of the grant program, and $5 million will fund technical assistance.
The grants will support the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement
Program and be funded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Combined with other recently announced federal healthcare IT programs,
they total 75 percent of the $2 billion allotted under ARRA for
healthcare IT, according to Blumenthal.
Sebelius said the program’s goal is to help Americans live healthier
lives. By supporting communities on the forefront of using healthcare
IT, the federal government hopes to provide models – or beacons – for
the rest of the country. Blumenthal said HHS his looking for “all types
of communities,” including rural, urban, towns, counties, geographical
regions, wealthy and underserved populations, to apply for grants.
The program will focus on improving health in the grant communities,
with emphasis on using healthcare IT to improve measurable healthcare
statistics such as a decrease in smoking rates, reduced hospital
readmission rates, a lower number of people with obesity and high blood
pressure, improved care for people with diabetes, and decreased
healthcare disparities among populations, according to Blumenthal.
Grantees will be encouraged to use existing federal resources and
programs that already promote health information exchange at the
community level. Close coordination with the Regional Extension Center
Program, State Health Information Exchange Program and the national
Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC) will ensure that
lessons learned are shared, Blumenthal said.
Posted Dec.10, 2009