Senate expected to approve HHS bill that includes ONCHIT funding

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Senate expected to vote on health IT bill right before holiday break.
Source: Capital Hill Daily Brief

A new spending bill currently in the Senate could provide the The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) with $61 million in funds for programs next year. The House on Monday voted 253-154 to approve a $516 billion omnibus budget package that includes the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3043) and the 10 other unapproved fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The package includes approximately $145 billion in discretionary spending for the Labor-HHS-Education section but cuts ONCHIT’s requested funding is chopped almost in half, from $118 million to $61 million. ONCHIT is charged with spearheading nationwide adoptions of EHRs.

Under the package, $335 million is allotted for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality programs, which include $30 million for clinical effectiveness research.

In related news, President Bush last Friday signed a third continuing resolution that will fund most Cabinet departments and federal agencies at fiscal year 2007 levels until Dec. 21, "requiring some agencies to cope with rising workloads with no increase in resources," according to the The New York Times. The previous CR expired on Friday.

Bush said that in the event that lawmakers fail to pass such a package, they "should not carry the unfinished business of 2007 into the new year" and "should pass a one-year continuing resolution that does not include wasteful spending or higher taxes," according to Congress Daily.