Bennet: $26 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Health IT Investment, Health Sector Job Training Will Help Improve Care in Colorado

Colorado Regional Health Information Organization to Receive $21 Million HHS Grant for State's Health IT Initiatives

Otero Junior College to Receive $5 Million Labor Grant for Nursing Training

Denver, CO - Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today announced more than $26 million in Recovery Act grants to advance the use of health information technology (IT) in Colorado to ensure better care for patients and boost training initiatives to prepare Coloradans for jobs in the health care sector.

The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization will receive two grants totaling more than $21 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to build capacity and enable widespread meaningful use of health IT and improve patient care in Colorado.

Additionally, Otero Junior College in La Junta will receive nearly $5 million from the Department of Labor (DOL) for nursing training programs to prepare people for health sector jobs, which will help meet the growing demand for health workers, particularly in rural areas.

The $21 million in HHS Recovery Act funding will boost state efforts to facilitate health information exchange (HIE) at the state level and to develop regional extension centers that will aid health professionals as they work to implement and use health IT.

"When doctors have access to better information about their patients, they provide better care," said Bennet. "Building a state-wide network so health care organizations and providers can ‘talk' to each other will provide better, more effective care for Coloradans across the state."

The $5 million in funding for Otero Junior College is part of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) efforts to address current and forecasted workforce shortages, and provide workers with paths to career enhancing opportunities in high growth or emerging industries as defined within the context of state or regional economies.

"People in rural Colorado aren't getting the health care they need because they're just simply aren't enough doctors and nurses available to provide them basic care," said Bennet. "Coloradans deserve better, and this funding will help meet this challenge, while preparing people for new, good-paying jobs that will allow them to serve their communities."

As many industries suffer lay-offs and job losses, the health care industry remains a critical driver in regional economies across the nation. Employment growth in the health care sector will be driven by significant increases in demand for health care and assistance because of an aging population and longer life expectancies.

These investments will prepare participants for employment in industries that are being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skill sets, or are projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy.