Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, a member of the House of Representatives from Nevada, has introduced a brief amendment to the federal government’s spending bill that would restore a planned cut of nearly $22 million from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s budget in fiscal year 2018.
As previously reported by Healthcare Informatics Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018, unveiled to the public on May 23, includes significant cuts to various departments that touch health IT, including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The budget request to Congress cuts of billions of dollars from several other healthcare programs across various federal healthcare agencies. The ONC, which is the health IT arm of the government, and resides within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alongside the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), would be in line to have its $60 million budget slashed to $38 million. The $60 million figure for ONC has held steady for the last few years under the Obama Administration. In the budget request, ONC’s staff would also be in line to lose 26 members of its staff next year, from 188 down to 162. The staff increased by 14 from 2016 to 2017.
Rosen is member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee, and subcommittees on Research and Technology and Energy, and news of the amendment she filed was first reported by Politico.
According to Politico, she wrote a letter to Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole and ranking member Rosa DeLauro back in June calling the ONC budget cuts “bad policy.”
The Politico article quotes Rosen’s letter: “The Administration has tried to justify its decision based on the specious notion that because many physicians and hospitals have begun to adopt health IT, ONC's role as envisioned by Congress just eight years ago is now moot. On the contrary, wider adoption of health information systems and the proliferation of electronic medical records necessitates more policy guidance and support for innovation, not less. ... Now is not the time to slash spending in a core sector that will help make health care less expensive, more efficient and more effective.”
Politico also reports that the House Rules Committee will consider non-defense appropriations bills when it returns in September.