House Panel Passes Budget Cuts for Health IT-Related Agencies

June 18, 2015 in News

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education approved a draft funding bill for fiscal year 2016 that includes funding cuts for several health IT-related agencies, AHA News reports.

Funding Bill Details

Overall, the draft measure totals $153 billion, representing a $3.7 billion decrease in funding from last year’s budget (AHA News, 6/17). The draft bill allocates $71.3 billion for HHS, up $298 million from FY 2015 (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 6/18). The HHS funding includes:

  • $31.2 billion for NIH, up $1.1 billion from FY 2015;
  • $7 billion for CDC, up $140 million from FY 2015;
  • More than $6 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration, down $299 million from FY 2015 (House Appropriations Committee release, 6/16); and
  • $3.6 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, up $23 million from FY 2015 (AHA News, 6/17).

Health IT-Related Funding

Under the draft measure, funding for ONC would remain at $60.4 million. The Obama administration in its proposed FY 2016 budget had requested an increase to $91.8 million for ONC.

Meanwhile, the draft measure would cut:

  • $7 billion in funding for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; and
  • $100 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Raths, Healthcare Informatics, 6/17).

In addition, the bill would eliminate funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which among other things conducts research on various health IT initiatives.

According to an Academy Health campaign, two Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) both offered amendments to restore funding for AHRQ, but the measures were defeated (Academy Health campaign, 6/18).

According to AHA News, the full House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the measure next week (AHA News, 6/17).

Comments

The Association of American Medical Colleges in a statement said that the proposed cuts to AHRQ, CMMI and PCORI undercut “efforts to transform patient care.” The group added that the proposed funding levels are “insufficient to meet the nation’s health needs” (Healthcare Informatics, 6/17).

In its campaign, Academy Health called the elimination of AHRQ’s funding “unacceptable.” The group urged advocates to contact members of the subcommittee to urge them to restore funding for the agency (Academy Health campaign, 6/18).

In a statement, Research!America also criticized the funding cuts, calling the proposed termination of AHRQ funds a “strategic mistake.” The group urged individuals to press Congress to restore the funding (Research!America release, 6/17).

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