The projected Department of Health and Human Services information technology budget will decrease by more than 10 percent next year under President Obama's spending plan sent to Congress. According to an agency-by-agency breakdown of I.T. budgets posted by Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, the HHS I.T. budget will decrease from $9.596 billion in 2014 to $8.627 billion in 2015 - a difference of $968 million.

In addition, the Obama administration's March 4 release of its fiscal 2015 budget submission to Congress for HHS includes estimated "Medicare health information technology incentive payments" of $1.436 billion to hospitals and $710 million to eligible professionals, respectively, for an overall total of $2.146 billion—a significant drop from 2014 levels.

In 2014, incentive payments are estimated at $6.213 billion to hospitals and $3.450 billion to eligible professionals, respectively, for a total of $9.663 billion. By means of comparison, in 2013 actual incentive payments were $3.385 billion to hospitals and $2.674 billion to eligible professionals, for a total of $6.059 billion.

There is good news in the fiscal 2015 budget request for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health I.T. ONC's proposed budget is nearly $75 million - approximately $14 million more than fiscal 2014 - to fund "grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for the development and advancement of interoperable health information technology."

At HIMSS14, Doug Fridsma, ONC's Chief Science Officer and Director of the Office of Science and Technology, lamented that ONC's budget had returned to its historic funding level of $60 million annually--the same amount the office received when it was formed in 2004. Nevertheless, the President's fiscal 2015 budget request now includes additional funding.

"This program supports coordination, leadership, and development of Federal health information technology activities and Federal initiatives for the nationwide advancement of private and secure interoperable health information technology, in cooperation with participants in the health sector," states the administration's budget request.

Overall, the Obama administration proposed a $77.1 billion discretionary budget for HHS “to help make coverage affordable, drive down long-term health care costs, and improve care for millions of Americans, as well as to train new health care providers, address public health priorities, assist vulnerable populations, and support medical research.”

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