HHS new Office of Recovery Act Coordination to oversee stimulus money

By Bernie Monegain
09:44 AM

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the creation of the Office of Recovery Act Coordination to help ensure the timely, organized and transparent distribution of economic stimulus funds managed by HHS.

Among those funds is $19 billion for healthcare information technology. Of the total, $2 billion will go to the Office of the National Coordinator for healthcare IT (ONC) to be distributed for various projects that support information technology.

The rest of the $19 billion will be used as Medicare and Medicaid incentives to encourage doctors and hospitals to adopt information technology and use it in a "meaningful way."

"HHS is committed to moving quickly and carefully to distribute Recovery Act funds in an open and transparent manner," said HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus. "We have already worked to put more than $3 billion in Recovery Act funds into states and the new Office of Recovery Act Coordination will enhance and streamline our efforts to get critical resources and potential new job opportunities to the American people during tough times." 

Dennis Williams will lead the new office and serve as HHS' deputy assistant secretary for recovery act coordination. Williams has served in the department for more than 20 years in offices including the Health Resources Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget.

The Department of Health and Human Services has distributed $3 billion in Recovery Act funds as of March 11, 2009, to support a variety of policies and programs including Community Health Centers and Medicaid.

The HHS Web site identifies about $59 billion in recovery programs. Investments include:

  • Health IT: Funding to modernize the health care system by catalyzing the adoption of health information technology by 2014. Achieving this goal will reduce health costs for the federal government by over $12 billion over the next 10 years.
  • Scientific Research & Facilities: Support for the construction of new research and educational facilities as well as groundbreaking scientific research that will improve the health of the nation.
  • Community Services and Early Childhood Care and Education Programs: Critical funding for programs such as community services infrastructure, meals for the elderly and persons with disabilities, Head Start, and subsidized child care to support children and families through the lifecycle.
  • Community Health: Support for the renovation and improvement of community health centers and other programs that serve patients in communities across the country.