President Obama's Health and Human Services budget request for fiscal year 2011 allocates increased funding for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and I.T. programs under the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

ONC, which has received $61 million annually for the past three years, is slated for $78 million in funding. That does not count the remaining "jump start" funding already allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The office needs a big raise as it has ramped up staffing to handle additional responsibilities under the HITECH Act within ARRA.

AHRQ gets a much bigger boost, from $397 million in 2010 to a requested $611 million in 2011. Much of that increase is stimulus funding, such as $286 million for comparative effectiveness research to develop evidence-based treatment guidelines.

But AHRQ also gets $31.5 million for health IT research, up $3.9 million from 2010 when funding was slashed to $27.6 million. The agency's health I.T. research budget for 2009 was $44.8 million.

The Office for Civil Rights, which among other duties has enforcement jurisdiction over the HIPAA privacy and security rules, is slated for $44 million in 2011, up $3 million from the current fiscal year.

More information on HHS' 2011 budget request is available at hhs.gov/asrt/ob/docbudget/index.html.

--Joseph Goedert

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