Proposed HHS budget would increase ONC funding

While the $75 million allocated for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in President Obama's proposed FY 2015 budget for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, unveiled Tuesday, is $3 million less than what was proposed a year ago, it represents a $15 million increase over funding actually approved for the agency for FY 2014.

The funding, according to HHS' budget in brief, "builds upon recent nationwide investments to promote the adoption of health information technology among a critical mass of providers, professionals and consumers."

Among other investments, the budget would allocate $5 million toward the creation of a Health IT Safety Center; the goal of the center would be to understand and correct patient harm specifically related to the use of certified electronic health record tools. Patients, providers, vendors and safety organizations all would serve as partners in the center's operation.

ONC's priorities for FY 2015, according to the budget-in-brief, include:

  • Continued development of standards, interoperability and certification
  • Providing technical assistance to vendors, providers, consumers and others geared toward privacy and security efforts
  • Encouraging the adoption, utilization and meaningful use of health IT via the EHR incentive programs

The proposed HHS budget at-large requests a total of $1.8 billion for health IT incentive payments.

HHS also requests $100 million for the National Institutes of Health for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which aims to, among other goals, advance artificial intelligence and increase understanding of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Under the proposed budget, the HHS Office for Civil Rights, which is in charge of enforcing the expanded HIPAA rule and conducting related audits, would receive $2 million more than it did in FY 2014. "The increase will support OCR's centralized case management operations and online complaint system," the budget-in-brief states.

According to the document, OCR resolved more than 9,500 complaints of alleged HIPAA violations in FY 2013.

To learn more:
- here's the HHS budget (.pdf)
- check out the budget-in-brief (.pdf)

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