House gives ok to $61.7M for ONCHIT
A House conference committee last week approved $61.7 million in funding for Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONCHIT) for the Labor, Education and HHS appropriations bill.

The breakdown of the bill includes $42.8 million of direct funding for ONCHIT, and $18.9 million set aside for Public Health Service Act development of a health IT network. In addition, Congress has targeted $50 million for the Agency for Health Research and Quality for healthcare IT spending.

Recently ONCHIT awarded four contracts for the development of national health information network prototypes though six such contracts that had been the original goal. According to National Coordinator for Health IT David Brailer, MD, PhD, fewer contracts were awarded due to funding uncertainty. At the time, Brailer suggested that two more could possibly be awarded if needed funding levels were met, which remains to be seen.

President Bush had originally requested a total of $75 million for ONCHIT programs. A vote is hoped for by the Senate regarding the bill before the holiday break.