HHS budget highlights IT initiatives

CMS data improvement initiative, CDC health statistics to benefit

The Health and Human Services Department is proposing to increase key investments in information technology in fiscal 2011, while its overall discretionary spending would rise by only 2.3 percent, to $81.3 billion.

Among the IT initiatives highlighted by HHS officials is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' plan to receive $110 million in new funding for a new, comprehensive Health Care Data Improvement Initiative, according to an "HHS Budget in Brief" document released Feb. 1.

The goal is to transform CMS’ data environment “from one focused primarily on claims processing to one also focused on state-of-the-art data analysis and information sharing,” the budget document states. The money will contribute to improvements to system security, value-based purchasing, increasing analytic capabilities and data sharing.

The HHS budget request includes $78 million, an increase of $17 million, for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the document states. That funding will go to coordinate federal health IT efforts and to implement and evaluate the $20 billion in economic stimulus law incentives for providers who adopt and use electronic health record systems.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality would receive an increase of $261 million, including program support costs, for new research projects. “This funding will support the generation, translation, and dissemination of research that will improve health care quality and efficiency by providing patients and clinicians with evidence-based information to enhance medical decision-making,” the budget request states.

The food safety budget would increase by $327 million, to $1.4 billion in total, an increase of 30 percent, under the president’s budget request. This funding would be directed to both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for food safety efforts, including electronic monitoring and surveillance.

The HHS budget proposal includes $162 million for CDC’s health statistics program, an increase of $23 million, to improve CDC’s ability to collect health data. It supports the development of electronic birth and death records and of national health surveys.

In addition, the CDC would receive $20 million for an initiative to use health data to inform decision-making and research on chronic diseases. This research will be applied in 10 of the largest U.S. cities.

The HHS budget proposal includes $162 million for CDC’s health statistics program, an increase of $23 million, to improve CDC’s ability to collect health data. It supports the development of electronic birth and death records and national health surveys.

The National Institutes for Health would receive $32.2 billion for biomedical research, an increase of $1 billion. This would go primarily to five high-priority projects: genomics and high-throughput technologies, translating basic science into new and better treatments; reinvigorating the biomedical research community; using science to enable health care reform; and global health.

In another line item, the Indian Health Service would receive an additional $4 million to support secure data exchange, according to the budget documents.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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