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Less than three months after the full House passed an omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2018 that preserved funding for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), a House committee unveiled a draft funding bill for FY 2019 that reduces the ONC budget by nearly 30 percent.
The House Appropriations Committee draft bill released Thursday calls for slashing the ONC budget by $17.7 million, or 29 percent, to $42.7 million. ONC is responsible for promoting interoperability in the U.S. healthcare system.
In passing the omnibus bill last March, the House ignored a $38 million, or 36 percent, reduction in the ONC budget for the 2018 fiscal year recommended in the budget proposal from the White House.
Nonetheless, while urging deep cuts to the ONC budget for FY 2019, the House Appropriations Committee recommended increasing other, larger health-related federal budgets.
The bill earmarks $89.2 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an increase of $1 billion above last year’s enacted level. This amount includes:
“For the fourth consecutive year, the bill allocates increased funds for the National Institutes of Health,” Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma said in a statement. “These funds will greatly benefit numerous medical research programs, combat opioid abuse and support the search for cures for many cancers and diseases.”