ONC funding up big in proposed 2014 budget

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT receives a big financial boost in the Obama administration's proposed fiscal 2014 budget, unveiled Wednesday afternoon as part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services overall budget request.

ONC's funding jumps from $61 million--which it received both in 2012 and 2013--to $78 million, a 28 percent increase that National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari called necessary in an executive summary.

"With HITECH funding ending in FY 2013, the proposed funding is needed to ensure that progress towards secure, interoperable health IT systems is continued," he said. "ONC's budget will ensure that investments such as the EHR Incentive Programs continue to yield meaningful results, and that health IT fulfills its important role in modernizing and transforming the nation's healthcare system."

Approximately $16 million of the $78 million would go toward policy development and coordination, according to the ONC's budget. The funding will help implement the much anticipated Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, expected to be finalized in early summer, as well as support health IT governance efforts. The latter, according to the budget, will be achieved by "funding emerging private-sector governance collaboratives, publishing a series of governance guides and launching a monitoring program to ensure that governance goals are being addressed."

Another $26 million will be allocated to both maintain and develop standards supporting an "interoperable and secure health IT infrastructure." The funding will also go toward sustaining health information exchange, as well as continued operation of the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

More than $14 million will go toward supporting the Meaningful Use Incentive Program, as well as monitoring its results. According to the budget: "As 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."

The HHS Office for Civil Rights, meanwhile, is slated to receive a $1 million increase in funding to $42 million in FY 2014. The money will go toward enforcing the updated HIPAA Security Rule, which went into effect late last month.

To learn more:
- here's the ONC's budget (.pdf)