HIMSS: Bush Administration follows through on promise for more health IT funding

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President Bush last week released his administration’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget which shows increased allotments for health IT initiatives. In its evaluation of the budget, HIMSS noted that health IT was the top item, which is obviously a good sign.
   
An additional $55 million will be put towards health IT interoperability work being done by David Brailer, MD, PhD’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which puts the total to $116 million. All told, the Administration has budgeted $5.5 billion towards health IT projects.
   
The Administration has put forward several areas of emphasis to gain some ground in health IT, one of which is establishing a standards-setting process and implementing the standards, HIMSS noted. Specifically, the authority for identifying and harmonizing standards will remain with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Some progress looks to be made in standards for drug information and public health surveillance, but these efforts for now will be limited, as will standards for health information sharing.
   
A new role for the Department of Homeland Security will be in establishing simple interoperability standards to facilitate communication between first responders.
   
Through legislation that was past last year, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt will develop a pay-for-performance program for inpatient hospital payments. The project is to begin in 2009. The quality reporting will not be limited to hospitals themselves, but also home health agencies as well as doctors who volunteer to participate.
   
More information: www.hhs.gov/budget/ and www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/