The economic recovery act that Congress passed in February 2009 provided significant funding for the expansion of electronic health records. The House passed a bill (H.R. 3014) this week that would create a small business loan program for electronic health record technology. Reuters reports about an American Journal of Medicine report by Harvard Medical School researchers who concluded that so far the savings from electronic health records at hospitals have not materialized. Researcher David Himmelstein warned that "Claims that health IT will slash costs and help pay for the reforms being debated in Congress are wishful thinking."
Govexec.com reports on the impact that the 2008 federal mental health parity act will have on FEHB Program coverage next year. Throughout this decade, FEHB Program participants have enjoyed cost sharing parity between mental health and medical/surgical benefits for services rendered by in-network providers. The new law requires cost sharing parity for services rendered by out-of-network providers if the plan offers out of network coverage. The article also notes that
[S]everal health plans are expanding coverage for childhood obesity preventative care. BCBS plans offer four free nutritional counseling sessions with a preferred provider for qualified children in the Jump 4 Health education program. Both the Rural Carrier and Mail Handler plans cover an annual body mass index testing for enrollees ages 2 to 21.