Nearly three years after Highmark first announced an e-health program to provide doctors with electronic health-record systems, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate instead will offer $29 million in grants directly through itself.
The Highmark eHealth Collaborative is still waiting on an Internal Revenue Service review to obtain tax-exempt status, which is required before the program can begin dispensing funds, Highmark said in a news release. Instead of continuing to wait for the IRS review, the company is considering the grant applications it has received since November 2005 and plans to begin awarding those projects later this summer. "Under this model, tax-exempt status is not required before funds can be allocated," said Kenneth Melani, a physician and Highmarks president and chief executive officer in a written statement.
Pittsburgh-based Highmark plans to pay up to 75% of the cost to buy and implement electronic health records and electronic prescribing systems in physicians' offices through central and western Pennsylvania. Providers will receive as much as $7,000, said Highmark, which provides insurance to about 4.6 million patients. -- by Jean DerGurahian