Pew tells Congress to reject Trump's budget cuts to ONC

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT needs more funding than the $38 million Trump allocated to advance interoperability, EHR usability and patient safety, a Pew official said.
By Tom Sullivan
09:57 AM
Trump budget cuts to ONC

Another group joined the battle for the budget of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Thursday morning.

Pew Charitable Trust manager of health information technology Ben Moscovitch urged lawmakers to push back on the cuts to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that President Trump put into his budget proposal.  

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“The President’s budget includes cuts despite outlining many of the same priorities as Congress — specifically advancing usability and interoperability,” Moscovitch wrote in the Thursday letter addressed to members of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. “If the proposed budget cuts are enacted, ONC may not have the necessary resources to carry out the entirety of Congress’ priorities for health information technology.”

Whereas Trump’s proposal would slash nearly 37 percent, or $22 million, from ONC’s annual operating budget, Moscovitch and other several industry trade groups have publicly said ONC needs more funding to achieve Congress’ vision of improving health data interoperability, EHR usability and patient safety.  

AHIMA, AMIA and HIMSS all expressed disappointment about the cuts and called on members of Congress to ensure ONC has enough funding to succeed.

The coalition Health IT Now, however, took the opposite stance and pushed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, to curb ONC’s burdensome regulatory authority and accusing the office of mission creep.

ONC chief Donald Rucker, MD, meanwhile, has said the office will focus on interoperability standards, health information exchange policies, support for the Cures Act and MACRA by working to convene government and private industry stakeholders.

“The success of these congressional priorities relies on the agency having adequate resources and prioritizing efforts to enhance patient safety and care quality,” Pew’s Moscovitch wrote in the letter. “We urge you to underscore to ONC the need to focus on how EHRs can enhance quality and safety — including as it implements the congressional priorities put forth in the 21st Century Cures Act.”  

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