Obama's Budget Plan Includes Increased Funding for Health IT


President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal generally provides increased funding for health IT-related initiatives, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/10).

About the Budget Proposal

On Wednesday, Obama released his $3.77 trillion budget proposal, which would raise taxes on higher-income individuals and cut spending on health care programs by $400 billion (Hennessey, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/10).

The bulk of the health care savings would come from reduced payments to hospitals and health care providers (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/10).

Republican members of Congress have indicated they do not support the tax increases in Obama's budget. However, the IT portions of Obama's budget do not appear to be controversial, according to Federal Computer Week (Mazmanian, Federal Computer Week, 4/10).

Funding for ONC

Under the proposal, HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT would receive nearly $78 million for FY 2014 -- a 28% increase from the $61 million allocated for ONC in FY 2012 (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 4/10).

That total includes:

  • $56.3 million in public health service evaluation funding;
  • $20.6 million in budget authority; and
  • $1 million in certified electronic health record technology fees to support program activities.

In a letter introducing ONC's portion of Obama's budget proposal, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari wrote that his office's budget request "builds on the momentum gained over the past few years" in activities such as health IT policy development, standards, interoperability, certification and meaningful use.

Mostashari added, "As [health IT] adoption rates accelerate, ONC will begin focusing on developing and distributing best practices to providers and consumers in order to help them make the most of their health IT investments to improve patient care, population health and increase the value of every health dollar" (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 4/11).

Funding for VA's IT Efforts

Obama's budget blueprint would increase funding for IT initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs to $3.89 billion in FY 2014, a 22.1% increase from the $3.16 billion allocated in FY 2012.

A portion of VA's IT funding would be allocated for digitizing VA's disability claims processing system (Federal Computer Week, 4/10).

Funding for HHS' Office for Civil Rights

Obama's proposal would increase the budget for HHS' Office for Civil Rights to $42 million for FY 2014, a $1 million increase over OCR's budget for FY 2012. The increased funding would help fund seven new positions in the office, which currently has 233 full-time workers.

OCR's privacy and security enforcement arm received and resolved more than 9,500 complaints of HIPAA violations in FY 2012. The unit increasingly is imposing civil monetary penalties for such violations to support its HIPAA enforcement efforts.

Funding for AHRQ

The budget proposal also would increase funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to $434 million, a $29 million increase over AHRQ's budget for FY 2012.

However, the agency's budget for health IT research would remain constant at $26 million (Health Data Management, 4/10).

Funding for Health Insurance Exchanges

Obama's budget proposal includes $803.5 million for CMS activities to support the operations of health insurance exchanges in FY 2014 (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 4/10).

Under the ACA, states by January 2014 must create online health insurance exchanges to provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.

Most insurance exchanges will rely on a solid IT foundation to connect with advanced eligibility systems for Medicaid and other state-administered health programs (iHealthBeat, 2/21).

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