What Trump's budget proposal means for hospitals

The administration’s plan could inhibit progress on improving interoperability, eradicating info blocking, and medical research but also funds cybersecurity and the VA’s EHR modernization.
By Tom Sullivan
11:41 AM
What Trump's budget proposal means for hospitals

The federal budget unveiled by President Trump includes sweeping changes to federal health agencies but also brings welcome funding in key areas.

“We’re concerned with the direction the administration is charting,” said Tom Leary, Vice President of Government Relations at HIMSS.  “The agreement from last week and the President signing the budget deal doesn’t match up with the proposal they’ve submitted.”

[Also: Trump's budget proposes deep cuts to HHS, ONC, OCR budgets and staff]

Leary added that the proposed budget, which cuts the Department of Health and Human Services by 21 percent -- including decreasing the budgets of ONC and CDC while eliminating AHRQ -- doesn’t align with the vision Congress put forth to keep the U.S. as a leader in 21st-century health and research.

On the upside, however, he also noted that funding for cybersecurity -- up 4 percent overall and 16 percent within the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically -- is encouraging. As is the “strong down payment” Trump made on the VA’s EHR modernization plans. The proposed budget allocates $1.2 billion for the VA to implement Cerner’s EHR.

The National Institutes of Health would receive $1.4 billion more than last year, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s budget would increase by $473 million.

[Also: Trump signs spending bill into law: Here are health IT's biggest wins]

If Trump’s budget proposal moves forward, Leary said hospital executives should anticipate that the cuts to ONC will stretch out the timelines of important initiatives like addressing information blocking, improving interoperability, EHR certification and work with states on health information exchange. Eliminating AHRQ, meanwhile, would cut funding health systems use to enhance patient safety, improve care delivery and outcomes-level research.

The VA’s EHR modernization with Cerner has the potential to improve interoperability, not just between the VA and Department of Defense, but also among private providers that treat veterans.

“The impact on hospitals is not immediate, it’s downstream,” Leary said. “We encourage Congress to take a good hard look and maintain that bipartisan focus on advancing health IT and overall health of the nation by making sure the funding for fiscal year 2019 more closely aligns with the budget deal.” 

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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