White House Announces $1B in Health IT Funding

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that Recovery Act funds have been released to encourage widespread meaningful use of health IT, including the transition to electronic health records. The funds will also be used to train 15,000 people in job skills needed for careers in health care, IT and other high-growth fields.

The White House has announced "nearly $1 billion in Recovery Act awards to help health care providers advance the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology ... and train workers for the health care jobs of the future. The awards will help make health IT available to over 100,000 hospitals and primary care physicians by 2014 and train thousands of people for careers in health care and information technology," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release Feb. 12.
The Department of Health and Human Services distributed more than $750 million of the funds to state and regional entities as "part of a federal initiative to build capacity to enable widespread meaningful use of health IT. ... [The funds] will facilitate health care providers' efforts to adopt and use electronic health records (EHRs)." The release continued:

""Of the over $750 million investment, $386 million will go to 40 states and qualified State Designated Entities (SDEs) to facilitate health information exchange (HIE) at the state level, while $375 million will go to an initial 32 non-profit organizations to support the development of regional extension centers (RECs) that will aid health professionals to implement and use health information technology ... RECs are expected to provide outreach and support services to at least 100,000 primary care providers and hospitals within two years."Health information technology can make our health care system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen 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."The more than $225 million in DOL [Department of Labor] grant awards [...] will be used to train 15,000 people in job skills needed to access careers in health care, IT and other high growth fields. Through existing partnerships with local employers, the recipients of these grants have already identified roughly 10,000 job openings for skilled workers that likely will become available in the next two years in areas like nursing, pharmacy technology and information technology. The grants will fund 55 separate training programs in 30 states to help train people for secure, well-paid health jobs and meet the growing employment demand for health workers. Employment services will be available via the Department of Labor's local One Stop Career Centers, and training will be offered at community colleges and other local education providers.""

"The Recovery Act's investments are making a positive difference in the lives of America's working families," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in the statement. "The investments announced today will ensure [that] thousands of workers across the nation can receive high-quality training and employment services, which will lead to good jobs in health care and other industries offering career-track employment and good pay and benefits."

The awards are "part of an overall $100 billion investment in science, innovation and technology the administration is making through the Recovery Act to spur domestic job creation in growing industries and lay a long-term foundation for economic growth. In addition to the 10,000 jobs the DOL grantees expect to fill with freshly trained workers, the health IT extension centers are expected to hire over 3,000 technology workers nationwide in the months ahead."