CNN reports that the slimmed-down economic stimulus bill being debated by Congress has had the $2 billion line item earmarked for healthcare IT grants removed as part of a cost-cutting compromise.
The original House plan called for $2 billion in HIT grants plus another $18 billion to be managed by CMS in the form of pay-for-performance incentives. Details of the current plan being debated have not been released.
UPDATE: a reader sent over a worksheet provided by his Senator. The House had originally proposed $2 billion for ONCHIT, while the Senate had proposed $5 billion. The proposed compromise calls for a $2 billion reduction from the Senate’s proposal, leaving $3 billion, which is still $1 billion more than the House had suggested. Those aren’t final numbers.
UPDATE 2: Here’s a link to the current version of the bill as of Monday morning (warning: PDF). The HIT grant part is on page 139, but here is the full text:
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR HEALTH
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)
For an additional amount for ‘‘Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’’, $3,000,000,000, to carry out title XIII of this Act which shall be available until expended: Provided, That of this amount, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall transfer $20,000,000 to the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce for continued work on advancing health care information enterprise integration through activities such as technical standards analysis and establishment of conformance testing infrastructure so long as such activities are coordinated with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology: Provided further, That funds available under this heading shall become available for obligation only upon submission of an annual operating plan by the Secretary to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate: Provided further, That the Secretary shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report on the actual obligations, expenditures, and unobligated balances for each major set of activities not later than November 1, 2009 and every 6 months thereafter as long as funding under this heading is available for obligation or expenditure.