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Recovery in Action: Investing in Health Care

While discussion about needed reforms to the health care system continues across the country, the Recovery Act made an investment today that will help hospitals provide more efficient care. Specifically, Vice President Biden announced the availability of $1.2 billion in grants to help health care providers implement and use electronic health records:
With electronic health records, we are making health care safer; we’re making it more efficient; we’re making you healthier; and we’re saving money along the way. These are four necessities we need for healthcare in the 21st-century.
As HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, these investments are a much-needed step towards modernizing the country’s health care system:
Electronic health records can help reduce medical errors, make health care more efficient and improve the quality of medical care for all Americans. These grants will help ensure more doctors and hospitals have the tools they need to use this critical technology.
The Recovery Act is also funding projects outside of health care, creating jobs and stimulating the economy by financing public improvement projects across the country: 
Limestone, Alabama Plans to Use Stimulus Funds To Pay Workers to Perform Plumbing, Construction, and Bridge Repairs, And To Purchase Law Enforcement Technology.  "Limestone County will spend its share by improving a bridge, helping create an events center, improving energy efficiency in county buildings, linking county computers via fiber-optic cable and buying video equipment for use by law-enforcement officials. The money …comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009… Limestone County Commission Chairman David Seibert said he is not sure how much the county will receive until it receives the checks, however, he does have some estimates: $300,000 in road money to improve a county bridge; $250,000 to build a new senior center at Tanner; $100,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to create a faster and more reliable connection between telephones and computers between county buildings; this improvement also allows judges to arraign jail prisoners via videoconference, which saves time and prevents having to transport prisoners to the courthouse. Within the next year to 18 months, the videoconference equipment will be used for industrial recruitment, said Revenue Enhancement Director Rodney Jackson who worked with Grant Coordinator Sonya Anthony to obtain the stimulus money. $100,000 for heating, cooling and plumbing for the event center to be constructed just west of the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives. That work should be under way within 90 days, Jackson said. $59,400 from a juvenile accountability grant to pay for ankle bracelets with global positioning units that are used to monitor some offenders and for outpatient drug program; $17,884… for video equipment, which county commissioners accepted Monday. Jackson said the county would have been eligible for the Justice Department grant and other grants in previous years but this year it was paid with stimulus funds.  Money for the Rails-to-Trails project… City and county residents did benefit from stimulus money the state received because it was spent to improve U.S. 31."
Jasper County’s Highway 16 Is Be Resurfaced Thanks To Stimulus Funds.  "Traffic has been disrupted near Monticello and will continue to be for the next 90 days or so while Hwy. 16 is being reseurfaced [sic] in Jasper County from the Butts County line to Forsyth Street at the Square. The work is a $1.4 million Jasper County resurfacing project funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project includes almost nine miles of resurfacing and shoulder reconstruction." 
Nebraska Will Use Stimulus Funds to Pay for Repairs, Site Upgrades In State Forests. "Nebraska will be getting $644,000 from the federal stimulus package for deferred maintenance projects at recreation sites in the state. The office of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday announced awards to Nebraska and 35 other states. More than 100 projects were funded at a total of nearly $95 million. The USDA has been authorized to spend $1.15 billion nationally for forest projects on federal, state and private land.  In Nebraska, the money will be used to repair and update sites on the grasslands and in the state's national forest land. The projects will bring the facilities up to current standards and improve accessibility. And new drinking water wells will be installed in some areas."

Ground Broken On Stimulus Funded Interstate Highway 81 Project To Improve Efficiency; "Will Create Dozens Of Jobs." 
"Transportation, border security and elected officials gathered Wednesday morning to break ground on a $1.3 million highway project to improve efficiency at the Interstate 81 border crossing station on Wellesley Island.  Funding for the project will come from the $1.1 billion New York state received for highway and bridge projects through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act…The project itself aims to alleviate congestion at the border by expanding from two lanes to four the roadway that funnels traffic into eight manned U.S. Customs and Border Protection check-in stations. Construction will begin immediately and should be complete by the end of the year, said Michael R. Flick, state Department of Transportation Region 7 spokesman…The economic benefits of the project are twofold, Sen. Aubertine said after the ceremony. In addition to the immediate job creation, ‘the smoother we can make the transition going from Canada to the U.S., the more people are going to take advantage of it.’ Ms. McNeely, representing the contractors' union, said the project will create about a dozen jobs. Luck Brothers Inc., Plattsburgh, will do the work."
Rhinelander Received Stimulus Funds For A New Wastewater Treatment Center And An Addition At The Rhinelander Fire Department.  "Funds will be used to build new wastewater treatment facility and fire department addition.   Governor Jim Doyle was in Rhinelander Wednesday afternoon presenting checks totaling over $33 million to the city…He presented two checks, one for construction of the new wastewater treatment facility and force main and the other for the addition at the Rhinelander Fire Department.  ‘I am happy to be here in Rhinelander to announce major investments in the water system that will create local jobs and benefit local water infrastructure needs," Governor Doyle said. "I’m also pleased to announce that with the help of the Recovery Act, the Rhinelander fire station will be constructing a new addition that will allow them to provide ambulance services to people in need in this community. These important projects made possible through the Recovery Act will help revitalize the local economy and benefit future generations.’   The wastewater check, for $32,912,640, represents $16.4 million in grant money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with the rest coming in the form of a low interest loan from the state. Doyle said the allocation is one of the largest in the state."