HHS 2014 Proposed Budget Seeks Continued Support of Health IT Adoption

HHS 2014 Budget Looks to Strengthen Health IT Investment2014 Budget Looks to Build Upon Investment in Health IT

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released earlier this week its proposed 2014 budget. In the 130 page budget brief, HHS outlines in considerable detail objectives, goals and budget allocations for next year.  Included in the budget are details related to activities and initiatives of the Office of the National Coordinator (page 114). The HHS budget reflects continued commitment to meet and increase participation in the CMS EHR Incentive Program.  The budget also includes increased commitment to patient safety and data security.

From the budget brief:

The FY 2014 Budget for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is $78 million, $17 million above FY 2012. The Budget builds upon the investment of health information technology (IT) resources authorized in the HITECH Act. It also strengthens ONC’s expertise on activities related to ONC’s core mission including adoption and meaningful use; policy development; standards development; certification; information exchange and interoperability. With the end of Recovery Act funding in FY 2013, the FY 2014 Budget allows ONC to leverage critical investments to further accelerate the nationwide implementation and meaningful use of health IT. ONC will continue to develop and coordinate policies and standards that advance the goals of health IT while protecting the privacy and security of health information. ONC will also provide continued leadership and expertise to implementers and consumers of health IT as they adopt and seek to realize the benefits of health IT and health information exchange (HIE). As health IT advances, the health IT community will look to ONC for leadership on a wide range of issues and challenges. To meet this demand, the FY 2014 Budget strengthens ONC’s core standards development capacity and its Health IT Certification Program.

National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, M.D. wrote a letter introducing the ONC’s portion of the budget.  In this letter Dr. Mostashari writes:

ONC’s budget request represents an increase over past years. With HITECH funding ending in FY 2013, the proposed funding is needed to ensure that progress towards secure, interoperable health IT systems is continued. 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 health care system.

In an appendix to the ONC document that gives detail to how its portion of the 2014 budget will be allocated, ONC proposes a fee be assessed to health IT vendors certifying their products through the ONC Health IT Certification Program (Appendix B, page 58). With ARRA set to expire at the end of this year, a “revenue source is necessary to ensure that ONC can continue to fully administer the Certification Program as well as invest resources to improve its efficiency.”

According to the document, the vendor user fee will support:

  • Administration of the ONC Health IT Certification Program and maintenance of the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).
  • Development of implementation guides and other forms of technical assistance for incorporating standards and specifications into products.
  • Development of health IT testing tools that are used by both developers , testing laboratories, and certification bodies.
  • Development of consensus standards, specifications, and policy documents related to health IT certification criteria.

Read more about the proposed ONC 2014 budget on the HealthIT Buzz Blog.

You can watch the video of the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius press conference announcing the proposed budget.