Under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will lose $22 million in funding. The 36 percent reduction cuts the $60 million for ONC to $38 million in 2018.
Full-time staff is set to be reduced from 188 to 162. The budget goes further in also cutting funding to the Office for Civil Rights, which implements HIPAA, by 13 percent, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 18 percent.
“Now that the vast majority of physicians and hospitals have adopted electronic health records through Federal incentive payments, it is time for a renewed, more focused role for ONC,” stated the budget. “For example, ONC will work with private sector entities to help create an environment that allows for the successful implementation of health IT.”
By restructuring the ONC to focus on policy development, coordination, standards and certification activities, the budget drops what it deems “lower-priority activities”. A number of offices or programs within the agency would be eliminated either immediately or gradually throughout the fiscal year, including:
- Office of Care Transformation
- Office of the Chief Privacy Officer
- Health IT Safety, Usability and Clinical Quality Improvement
- Health IT adoption program
- Federal Health Architecture
The deep cuts in the budget proposal worried the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which said in a statement it would "delay advancements in interoperability and information sharing."
"We strongly encourage Congress to reject these cuts and invest in advancements in research, innovation and health IT to optimize the best use of technology to support healthcare transformation,” said HIMSS’ vice president of government relations Thomas Leary.