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Health IT Gets $1 Billion In Federal Funding

The money will go toward health information exchanges, training, and support for health IT deployment.

The Obama administration on Friday announced almost $1 billion in Recovery Act funding to stimulate the use of health information technology.

The awards come in two parts: more than $750 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to spread the "meaningful use" of health IT via grants for health information exchanges and regional extension centers, and more than $225 million from the Department of Labor for health IT training. The spending is all part of the more than $20 billion in health IT funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Health information technology can make our healthcare system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive," Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "These grant awards will help develop our electronic infrastructure and give doctors and other health care providers the support they need as they adopt this powerful technology."

Of the funding from HHS, $386 million will go toward facilitating health information exchanges through 40 government and state-designated agencies in 35 states and Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C.

The state health and human services agency in California, the nation's most populous state, stands to get the largest share of that money, $38.8 million.

HHS has awarded an additional $375 million to 32 non-profit organizations to develop "regional extension centers" that will provide educational and technical assistance to help doctors and hospitals deploy and use electronic medical records systems. The Ohio Health Information Partnership will receive the largest portion of those funds, $28.5 million.

The Department of Labor, in turn, announced $225 million in grants that it says will be used to train 15,000 people in the skills needed for careers in healthcare and healthcare IT. The Department of Labor had already announced $70 million in training awards in late November.

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