HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today a total of nearly $1 billion in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) awards to advance the adoption and meaningful use of health IT. The awards also include funds to train workers for the health care jobs of the future and are intended to make health IT available to over 100,000 hospitals and primary care physicians by 2014.
Of the $750 million of the grants to be awarded through HHS, $386 million will go to forty states and State Designated Entities (SDEs) to facilitate state-level Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), while $375 million will go to an additional 32 non-profit organizations to support the development of regional extension centers (RECs) to aid health professionals as they work to implement health IT. RECs are designed to provide outreach and support services to support the HHS’ goals for health IT adoption over the next two years.
“Health information technology can make our health care system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “These grant awards, the first of their kind, will help develop our electronic infrastructure and give doctors and other health care providers the support they need as they adopt this powerful technology.”
Over $225 million in Department of Labor grants were announced by Secretary Solis, and the grants will be used to train 15,000 people in job skills necessary to access careers in health care, health IT, and other related high-growth fields. Through existing partnerships with local employers, grant recipients have already identified approximately 10,000 job openings for skilled workers that will likely become available over the next two years in areas like nursing, pharmacy technology and IT. These DOL grants will fund 55 different training programs in 30 states through the DOL’s local One Stop Career Centers as well as local community colleges and other local education providers.
The HHS and DOL awards are part of an hundred-billion dollar investment in science and technology through ARRA in order to spur domestic job creation in growing industries and lay a long-term foundation for economic growth.