Obama’s FY 2016 Budget Plan Would Boost ONC’s Funding
February 3, 2015 in News
On Monday, President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion fiscal year 2016 budget proposal that included a major funding increase for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, as well as funding for other health IT efforts, Health Data Management reports.
Obama’s budget proposal requests $92 million for ONC, up from about $60 million in FY 2015 and FY 2014 (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 2/3).
ONC’s funding would go toward “advancing the interoperability of health IT so that electronic health information can be collected, shared and used by consumers, providers and others to advance care and health,” according to HHS’ budget justification (Pittman, Politico Pro, 2/2).
For example, the funding would support efforts such as:
- Leveraging health IT to improve prescription drug monitoring programs;
- ONC’s 10-year nationwide interoperability roadmap; and
- Stage 3 of the meaningful use program.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers that demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Health Data Management, 2/3).
However, Obama’s budget request for ONC would not increase the agency’s current funding for the EHR incentive program, which is about $13 million, according to Politico Pro. The budget also would not increase ONC’s current $18.1 million in funding for “agency-wide support.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s proposed budget for ONC would allocate:
- $33.7 million to develop an EHR system certification program to ensure information sharing, up $18.4 million from this fiscal year; and
- $5 million to establish a health IT safety center, which would open in 2016 (Politico Pro, 2/2).
Funding Proposal for Medicare Data Sharing
In addition, Obama’s proposal seeks to expand the sharing of Medicare data to “enable additional third-party analysis.” According to the proposal, allowing for such reviews could lead to:
- A reduction of fraud, waste and misuse within the Medicare program;
- Improvement in health care quality and efficiency; and
- More transparency (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 2/2).
Funding Proposal for Precision Medicine
The FY 2016 budget proposal also requests $215 million for Obama’s new Precision Medicine Initiative (Ault, Medscape, 2/2).
Of the $215 million in funding for the project that centers around the creation of a massive database containing the genetic data of at least one million volunteer participants:
- $131 million would go toward NIH to recruit at least one million volunteers and analyze their full genetic makeups, as well as expand clinical trials for possible cancer medications;
- $70 million would go toward NIH’s National Cancer Institute to further study genetic causes of cancers and use study findings to assist with drug development;
- $10 million would go toward FDA to develop databases to help the agency create the regulatory structure for evaluating precision medicine advances; and
- $5 million would go toward ONC to help develop interoperability standards and policies to address privacy issues and help with secure data exchange across various systems (iHealthBeat, 1/30).
Other Health IT-Related Funding
Meanwhile, the budget proposal also would:
- Allocate $105 million to expand the U.S. Digital Service group, which was created to help the federal governments IT operations following HealthCare.gov’s troubled rollout (FCW, 2/2);
- Allocate $85 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire additional staff to help reduce VA’s backlog of disability compensation claims (AP/Washington Times, 2/3);
- Continue funding for the BRAIN initiative (Dennis, “Federal Eye,” Washington Post, 2/2); and
- Increase funding to states to expand prescription drug monitoring programs (Viebeck, The Hill, 2/2).