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Introduction of the Health IT Modernization for Underserved Communities Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Health IT Modernization for Underserved Communities Act, legislation that would amend the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HI TECH) Act to extend Electronic Health Record (EHR) Medicaid incentive payments to all physician assistants (PAs) whose patient volume includes at least 30 percent Medicaid and other financially needy beneficiaries.

The HITECH Act currently offers the incentive payments to physicians and nurse practitioners who provide primary care to the requisite 30 percent threshold of Medicaid recipients, but limits the EHR incentive payments to care provided by PAs in ``PA-led'' rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers.

Enhanced, quality patient care is the goal of electronic health records, and patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of this legislation. The current HITECH limitation on Medicaid EHR limits the development of EHR systems for Medicaid beneficiaries who are served by PAs. This legislation extends additional support to community health centers and other medical practices in which PAs provide care to a high volume of Medicaid patients.

I have firsthand knowledge of the key role of the Physician Assistant profession and the role the profession serves in bringing primary medical care to rural and other medically underserved communities. Before I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and before I served in the California Assembly, I was a Physician Assistant, and I know that the PA profession adds tremendous value to our health care system. PAs provide quality, team-based, patient-centered medical care and extend the reach of medicine throughout the U.S. It is a cost-efficient approach to providing needed medical care.

There are over 90,000 practicing PAs in the U.S. today. PAs are one of three health care professionals providing primary medical care in the U.S. Although PAs practice in virtually all medical specialties, primary care is the largest area of specialty practice for PAs.

The PA profession is uniquely flexible in adapting and responding to the evolving needs of the U.S. health care system by virtue of comprehensive educational programs that prepare PAs for a career in general medicine and a team-based approach to providing patient-centered medical care.
I am pleased to introduce this important legislation and ask my colleagues to join me in supporting the Health IT Modernization for Underserved Communities Act.

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