New Health IT Aid Program Moves One Step Closer to Community Pharmacies

By John Norton

Today NCPA sent a letter to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, praising S. 2765, the Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act of 2009, legislation recently introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and referred to her committee.

The bill allows state-licensed pharmacists to secure reduced-cost loans for health information technology (HIT) guaranteed up to 90% with a subsidized deferment period of up to 3 years. This is critical because pharmacists must be key players in the ongoing HIT efforts that will produce greater efficiencies and improve coordination for the benefit of patients. And once these changes are fully implemented, plenty of money will likely be saved. In fact, the giant federal stimulus bill that was passed in February further accelerated this push by forcing the creation of a national, interoperable health care system by 2014, which will focus on electronic health records (EHR).

However, change of this magnitude requires a significant investment. For small business owners without large profit margins, those upfront costs are cause for real concern.

With House passage of its version of the bill, H.R. 3854, back in October, the momentum is there for some long-overdue support for community pharmacists in the world of HIT.

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