HHS' 2017 Budget Highlights HIPAA Audits and Health IT

HCPRO Website, February 22, 2016

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) are both set to receive significant increases in HHS’ FY 2017 budget. These funds are earmarked for HIPAA audits and expansion, health IT interoperability and security, and health IT regulation.

OCR is set to receive $43 million for FY 2017, up $4 million from FY 2016. This increase is specifically intended to support the long-expected HIPAA audit program. The funds are also allocated to:

  • Modernize HIPAA protections
  • Streamline requirements to make them less burdensome
  • Evaluate new areas where HIPAA does not currently apply

ONC will have an $82 million budget in 2017, up $22 million from 2016’s budget. This raise is specifically meant to boost the safety, security, and reliability of interoperable health IT systems, HHS says. The budget draws particular attention to supporting ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap. The boost in funding will help ONC encourage market competition and transparency and provide technical support to providers. ONC’s budget is also earmarked for developing standards and certification in line with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.

ONC’s budget also includes legislative proposals aimed at:

  • Governing health IT entities
  • Combating information blocking
  • Increasing health IT transparency

The budget outlines a plan for ONC to create a Health IT Safety Collaborative that addresses health IT-related safety issues. This effort would involve a public-private partnership between providers and developers.

Through its Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, HHS is allocating $51 million to healthcare cybersecurity efforts, including creating new healthcare cybersecurity authorities as outlined in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015.