What President Obama’s Budget Would Mean for Health IT

By Helen Gregg for Becker’s Health IT

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 reflects his commitment to advancing health IT by maintaining or increasing funding to several key agencies.

The proposed budget allocates $75 million to the ONC to help the department continue its efforts to support the adoption of electronic health records and other technologies, a $14 million increase over fiscal year 2014. Part of this allotment will fund the Health IT Safety Center, which will begin collecting data on adverse events related to health IT to develop benchmarks and best practices to reduce the technologies’ potential to harm patients.

The budget allows the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to award $20 million in grants for research into how health IT can improve patient outcomes and population health. Much of this research will inform the ONC’s policy decisions and best practices guidelines. The budget also sets aside $14 million to support the Health Resources and Services Administration’s efforts to expand the adoption of health IT systems.

However, the $3.9 trillion budget also includes cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, as well as cuts to teaching hospitals and graduate medical education programs. The American Hospital Association has issued a letter criticizing the budget for failing to support hospitals during this time of transition, arguing the cuts and the resulting financial losses among hospitals will lead to, among other things, reduced patient access to advanced technologies and treatments.

The budget in its current form is unlikely to pass Congress. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the budget “a clear sign this president has given up on any efforts to address our serious fiscal challenges,” and his party will not support the budget as proposed, according to a report in the Washington Post.

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