HHS budget for health IT remains flat in 2010
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is slotted to receive $108 million for health IT programs under the proposed fiscal 2010 budget released last week--the same funding as the two previous years.

When President Barack Obama published his proposed budget overview in February, $76.8 billion was tagged for HHS programs directed at expanding technology, research and access to healthcare, reported Government Health IT. However, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed HHS budget puts reform first.

"It's a budget that builds on the critical investments made in the [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] to protect public health, fights fraud and abuse, moves us closer to comprehensive health reform, and supports the critical work our department does every day," she said, according to Government Health IT.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) would experience a 4.5 percent decrease in direct funding to $42 million from $44 million in 2009. ONC would make up the difference with $19 million from the Public Health Services Act, which provided the office with $17 million in 2009. The result is a total of $61 million for 2010, the same as the previous two years.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Federal Health Architecture would also receive the same funding as the previous two years: $45 million for AHRQ and $8 million for the latter.

Building on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the proposed budget also includes $2 billion for ONC and $17 billion in EHR adoption incentives. ONC would use $809 million in 2010 for ARRA activities.

Government Health IT also reported that rural hospitals could also get health IT assistance, and that the Health Resources and Services Administration would provide $15 million for quality improvement and adoption of health IT through its Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program.