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March 9, 2010; Health Leaders Media | By any measure, $3 billion is a lot of money, and more so when it represents the largest single chunk of federal stimulus money that might be directed to a state in the form of reimbursements for patient services. Therefore a lot is riding on Cal eConnect, a new nonprofit that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped to do the work required to be eligible for those funds.

According to Health Leaders Media, the role of the new nonprofit will be to help hospitals, doctors, clinics and other health care providers throughout the state create a system for the efficient exchange of health information. “This organization is intended to help create a consensus about how institutions like hospitals, clinics, and physician practices can communicate with each other in a safe way,” said Jonah Frohlich, California’s deputy secretary for health information technology.

Cal eConnect was formed following a successful application from two organizations—CalRHIO and the California eHealth Collaborative—presented as part of a process to determine which agencies were best able to take on this assignment. “The bottom line is that we felt it was absolutely important that this organization be one that is trusted by all stakeholders,” Frohlich said.

As also reported in the San Francisco Business Times, at least $3 billion in enhanced Medi-Cal and Medicare payments—from Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds—are expected to be made available to thousands of California doctors and hospitals that can demonstrate they are participating in health information exchange in a meaningful way.—Bruce Trachtenberg