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Biden Announces $1.2 Billion For Health IT

Vice President Joe Biden recently announced that nearly $1.2 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be allocated as grants to help hospitals and health care providers transition to electronic medical records.

Of the money set aside, $589 million will establish approximately 70 centers that will assist hospitals and other medical providers choose and utilize electronic health record systems. Another $564 million will be set aside for state initiatives to support the development of information sharing systems within an emerging nationwide system of networks.

“With electronic health records, we are making health care safer, we’re making it more efficient, we’re making you healthier and we’re saving money along the way,” said Biden. “These are four necessities we need for health care in the 21st century.”

Advocates say that proper use of electronic health records would make health care more efficient by cutting down on duplicative tests, unnecessary procedures and harmful drug interactions.

The Obama administration has cited the results of some studies that estimate the universal adoption of electronic health technology could save more than $77 billion a year in health care costs. However, the Office of Management and Budget has questioned the validity of those studies, in part because of the complexity and unknowns involved in implementing these systems.

The grants will be available after October 1, 2009, when federal fiscal year 2010 begins.

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