Hospitals and other health care providers in Maryland are receiving a total of $2 million in federal money to reimburse them for investments they made in new electronic record systems, state officials said Thursday.

The grants were the first in a series being offered in coming years. They were only available to providers who have a certain number of Medicaid patients and already switched to the new system, said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

Brown said the technology will ensure providers have the right information about patients and that will improve care, in addition to save money. He and officials will encourage other providers to switch to electronic records because widespread use is necessary for the system to work well.

Officials recognized that the cost could be a major hurdle for some doctors' offices and hospitals. Physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, dentists and physicians assistants who participate in Medicaid can apply for $21,500 in federal grant money in the first year and $8,500 in subsequent years. Hospitals could get up to a $2 million base payment.

So far, 449 providers and hospitals have applied for the money, made available through the federal health care reform law.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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