Bush FY08 budget proposes $118 million to advance healthcare IT

WASHINGTON – President Bush yesterday requested that Congress approve $118 million for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The request came as part of the president’s $2.9 trillion fiscal year 2008 budget proposal, which calls for $700 billion for HHS and plans to balance the federal budget by 2012.

Under the FY08 proposal, the president calls for $5 million to establish a fund within HHS for health data standards development and other related activities that support the HHS implementation of public-private consensus standards.

“The federal government has played an important role in seeing that health data standards are available for both private sector and federal use,” an HHS summary of the proposal said. “Standards are a critical element of the foundation of the national health IT agenda and a necessary building block for achieving the president’s health IT goals.”

According to HHS, the overall funding proposed for ONC includes $22 million for the American Health Information Community – the federal advisory panel – to use toward encouraging healthcare IT adoption in its four breakthrough areas, including the advancement of electronic health records, consumer empowerment, chronic care management and biosurveillance. AHIC will use the funding to test healthcare IT implementation in its four breakthrough areas within 12 communities.

The plan also calls for the development of a “Partnership for Health and Care Improvement” as a successor to AHIC. The Partnership will be a public-private collaboration that will sustain the administration’s vision to accelerate the adoption of healthcare IT, quality and transparency in healthcare, HHS said.