• ONC Releases Grant Information for Extension Centers, Health Information Exchanges
  • September 10, 2009 | Author: Christopher P. Kenny
  • Law Firm: King & Spalding LLP - Washington Office
  • On August 20, 2009, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement and Grant Application Instructions for Regional Extension Centers and State Health Information Exchange Cooperatives. Regional Extension Centers are charged with offering educational and on-site technical assistance to providers to help them achieve “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records, which is a requirement for receiving Medicare incentive payments allocated in the HITECH Act, a section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. State HIE Cooperatives are entities designated by individual states to be responsible for facilitating the exchange of health information among providers.

    Funding will be made during three cycles. The deadline for preliminary applications for the first cycle of funding is September 8, 2009. The preliminary applications for the second and third cycles are due by December 22, 2009, and June 1, 2010, respectively. ONC estimates the average award to be nearly $8.5 million, with a total of $598 million in grants. Applicants must meet a 10% cost-sharing requirement in the first two years of the program and bear 90% of the costs in the next two years. ONC is placing particular emphasis on geographic diversity of applicants and a requirement that each Regional Center have service commitments from at least 1,000 primary care providers.

    Applications for Regional Center funding will take a two-step approach. Applicants must submit a short preliminary application that documents the applicant’s proposed geographic service area, the number of primary-care providers it believes it can serve, proposed staffing levels, and the applicant’s current service capabilities and proposed service offerings. Along with the spreadsheet, applicants must attach a signed letter by the organization’s representative describing the applicant’s mission statement, proof of the applicant’s nonprofit status, any letters of support from community stakeholders, and a certification that the applicant has no conflicts of interest with HIT vendors.

    The application must be emailed to [email protected]

    If selected by ONC to submit a final application, the applicant must submit a full application including a detailed budget analysis and a project narrative that addresses the project’s potential for meeting the required scope of services: education and outreach to providers; participation in a national learning network of regional centers; vendor selection and group purchasing implementation and project management; implementation and project management; facilitation of interoperability and HIE; collection privacy and security best practices; and the provision of local workforce support.

    State HIE Cooperatives will be responsible for facilitating the exchange of health information among providers in the form of e-prescribing, the electronic exchange of physician orders, and exchange of lab results. ONC intends to award cooperative agreements to states or state-designated entities to meet local health care provider, community, state, public health, and nationwide information needs.

    Like the Regional Centers, most funding will be disbursed in the first two years of the four-year initiative and is contingent upon applicants demonstrating a clear governance structure that has participation from public and private entities; a financing plan to achieve sustainability; the necessary technological capacity to facilitate HIE; and a plan to ensure privacy and security of health information. ONC estimates grants will range anywhere from $4 million to $40 million. Applicants must be non-profit organizations or components of state government and must be designated by the state—through a letter from the governor—to service that state.

    Materials may be requested at www.grants.gov under the Funding Opportunity Number (EP-HIT-09-001) or CFDA number (93.719).