Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Press Release - CORHIO to Receive Recovery Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2009

 

CONTACT:

Evan Dreyer, 720.350.8370, evan.dreyer@state.co.u

 

GOV. RITTER DESIGNATES CORHIO TO RECEIVE RECOVERY FUNDS

 

Gov. Bill Ritter has designated the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) as the state-level entity to receive health information technology (HIT) funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

 

"By designating CORHIO as the state-level entity to receive funds, we will have a tremendous impact on improving the quality and lowering the cost of health care across the state," Gov. Ritter said. "Ensuring that every person in the U.S. has an electronic health record by 2014 will help reform and modernize our 21st century health care system."

 

The Recovery Act includes legislation known as the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health. The HITECH Act provides approximately $36 billion for HIT nationwide, with $34 million being distributed to qualified health care providers and $2 billion being made available to states and other agencies on a competitive basis for infrastructure and other technology improvements.

 

Colorado plans to use HITECH funds to establish a loan and grant program for providers who are interested in purchasing electronic health records, to reimburse Medicaid providers who utilize electronic health records to improve clinical outcomes, train health care professionals in practice and in training on how to usefully integrate technology into practices in ways that improve health care value. It also hopes to be named as a HIT Regional Extension Center.

 

"This designation is a testimony to the statewide private-public partnerships and collaborative efforts that are aimed at ensuring that all Coloradans will benefit from these investments," said Joan Henneberry, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. "CORHIO will use this designation to continue working with communities to use technology to improve health care quality, access and affordability."

 

 "As a partner with communities across the state, we are excited about the opportunities that will be made possible through the HITECH Act and look forward to using the federal funding to continue and accelerate the great work that many Colorado communities and CORHIO are making to improve the health of all Coloradans through secure health information exchange," said Phyllis Albritton, executive director of CORHIO.

 

CORHIO (www.corhio.org) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to facilitate the electronic health information exchange to improve the health of all Coloradans. As a state level organization, CORHIO is a collaborative partnership, engaging the public and private sectors as well as a broad range of individuals, organizations, agencies, and policy makers to develop and support statewide health information exchange.

 

Here is the complete text of Executive Order D 008 09: Designating the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization as Colorado's Qualified State-Designated Entity to lead efforts to expand the use of health information across Colorado to meet state and federal goals for improving health and health care:

 

Pursuant to the authority vested in the Office of the Governor of the State of Colorado, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order designating the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization as Colorado's Qualified State-Designated Entity to lead efforts to expand the use of health information across Colorado to meet state and federal goals for improving health and health care.

 

  1. Background and Purpose

     

    Health information technology provides tools that can improve the quality, safety, and value of health care services. There is a vital need to promote electronic health data exchange amongst payers, health care providers, consumers of health care, researchers, and government agencies. The State is a major purchaser of health care as an employer and through Medicaid, the Child Health Insurance Program, the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Administration, and, therefore, has a central role to play in improving the quality, transparency, and accountability of health care.  However, the full benefit of health information technology cannot be realized until electronic health record systems that support the exchange of health information are in place and used by health care providers, payers, and consumers throughout the state, and across state boundaries. This will ensure that clinical information is available where and when needed to promote health and deliver cost-effective health care services.

     

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA") included within it the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health ("HITECH") Act.  The HITECH Act provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop and implement the health information technology infrastructure needed to modernize and improve America's health care system. It includes provisions to encourage -- and in many instances require -- the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology and promote quality, safety, and efficiency of health care services.

     

    The HITECH Act authorizes approximately $36 billion over six years for health information technology.  The goal of the legislation is to ensure that each person in the United States has an electronic health record by 2014.  To that end, section 3013 of the HITECH Act directs the National Coordinator of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to establish a program, known as the ONCHIT Program, which will facilitate and expand the movement and use of electronic health information in accord with nationally recognized standards.  The ONCHIT Program provides for the awarding of grants to states or qualified state-designated entities.

     

    Approximately $34 billion is expected to be distributed directly to qualified health care providers who adopt and use electronic health records (EHRs) in accordance with provision of the HITECH Act.  These funds will be distributed to health care providers as incentive payments through Medicaid and Medicare between 2011 and 2016.  An additional $2 billion is expected to be made available for health information infrastructure through the United State Secretary of Health and Human Services in the form of grants, loans, and demonstration projects in areas including, but not limited to:

     

    • Regional, state and multi-state infrastructure
    • Implementation assistance
    • State grants for health IT promotion generally
    • Health Information Exchange (HIE) projects
    • Loan programs for adoption of certified EHRs
    • Demonstration projects for integrating Health IT into clinical education
    • Health informatics education programs

     

    The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Coordinator ("ONC") have substantial responsibility for setting the strategy for distribution of these funds.  The HITECH Act explicitly authorizes federal funds to be used for HIE projects through a state-designated entity and the state will have an opportunity to submit a state plan for achieving meaningful health information exchange. Despite the different pathways for funds that can come to Colorado and its providers, it is in the State's best interest that the state plan reflects a coordinated approach for using these funds for shared goals.

     

    Colorado is well positioned in the area of health information technology. In addition to the significant HIT efforts underway in communities and among providers across the state, the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization ("CORHIO") is well established as a statewide public/private non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of health information exchange.  CORHIO serves as the statewide convener of stakeholders to develop solutions and coordinate implementation of statewide information sharing, to link regional HIE projects and meet statewide HIT adoption and information sharing needs. CORHIO reflects stakeholder perspectives from across sectors and interests throughout the state. The CORHIO board is comprised of consumers, providers, health plans, government agencies, and experts in health care quality, value, and information technology.  In December 2008, CORHIO launched a secure health data exchange between Denver Health and Hospital Authority, KaiserPermanente of Colorado, University of Colorado Hospital and The Children's Hospital, making it among the first group of operational statewide HIE projects in the country. Thus, CORHIO is ideally suited to serve as Colorado's designated entity responsible for coordinating Colorado's health information technology initiatives, and to participate in programs and coordinate opportunities that will be made available under the HITECH Act.

     

  2. Directives
    1. CORHIO shall provide leadership and coordination of health information technology related efforts across Colorado to improve health care quality and value.
    2. CORHIO is hereby designated as Colorado's Qualified State-Designated Entity to participate in the ONCHIT Program and those promulgated by other national agencies and to be responsible for furthering the State's HIT Initiatives by coordinating, facilitating, and helping to implement multifaceted efforts to advance Health IT adoption and health information exchange across Colorado.
    3. Agencies under my direct executive authority shall cooperate in the implementation of this Order.  Other entities of State government not under my direct executive authority are requested to assist in CORHIO's efforts to advance the State's HIT Initiative.

     

  3. Duration

     

    This Executive Order shall remain in force until modified or rescinded by future Executive Order of the Governor.

 

GIVEN under my hand and the

Executive Seal of the State of

Colorado this third day of

April, 2009.

 

Bill Ritter, Jr.

Governor