Pew, AMIA Protest Cuts in ONC’s FY18 Budget
FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 21ST CENTURY Cures Act to accelerate medical breakthroughs could be in jeopardy if proposed budget cuts to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology are not restored, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association.
A letter from the organizations to four congressional leaders warns that proposed budget cuts planned for ONC will hamper its efforts to implement the Cures Act.
The House of Representatives budget proposal calls for a $38.3 million budget for ONC in Fiscal Year 2018, down from $60.3 million in FY 2017, and the Senate proposal calls for a continuation budget next year of $60.3 million, said the letter, signed by Ben Moscovitch, manager of health information technology at Pew and Jeffery Smith, vice president for public policy at AMIA.
The letter was addressed to Senators Roy Blunt (RMo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Representatives Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who all hold powerful positions overseeing Labor, Health and Human Services and Education budgets.
Recent testimony from ONC Deputy National Coordinator Jon White indicated that the agency would not be able to fully fund bipartisan provisions in the Cures Act, including initiatives to improve the transparency, interoperability and usability of electronic health records, Moscovitch and Smith note in their joint letter.
However, efforts are ongoing to educate lawmakers on the frustrations physicians face when working with EHRs, Moscovitch says. The challenges of interoperability and usability can bring safety concerns, he notes.