Trump may maintain support for health IT, cut funds for HIPAA audits

While support for interoperability is expected to remain strong, the ONC may be "scaled back," one expert says
While support for interoperability is expected to remain strong, the ONC may be "scaled back," one expert says

Health information technology and interoperability are expected to stay top priorities for health officials in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, according to one expert.

While bipartisan support for health IT initiatives is likely to remain in the new administration, funding for some programs may change, Harry Greenspun, chief medical officer and managing director for advisory firm Korn Ferry, told Bloomberg BNA last week. The size of some initiatives, like those run by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, may also be “reduced and the office scaled back,” Greenspun said.

Greenspun also noted that Congressional groups, such as REBOOT Health IT, are also expected to play a major part in informing the Trump administration on health IT initiatives.

The incoming administration may alter funding for “more subtle” healthcare programs to provide money for expensive, overarching goals, such as tax cuts and bolstering the military, another expert told Bloomberg. The HIPAA audits conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights may be a scaled-down program.

“I think funding for more subtle things, that the general public probably doesn't notice or appreciate, is likely to be cut eventually, and I would include OCR audits on that list,” said Eric Fader, an attorney with Day Pitney LLP.

However, should the Trump administration view the audits as a potential way to bring in money for the government, they could end up receiving additional funding, Fader noted.

Regardless of the incoming administration's view, any changes to HIPAA audits are unlikely to come during 2017, when the president-elect is expected to be engaged in a fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday, Modern Healthcare reported that Trump's transition team for HHS will likely be helmed by Andrew Bremberg, a former staffer for President George W. Bush who also worked on ACA repeal-related policies for both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R)  and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) presidential campaigns.

Bremberg will also reportedly be joined by Paula Stannard, former deputy general counsel with the HHS Office of the General Counsel, who is expected to focus on healthcare reform.

Trump's overall transition team will be led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was announced as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's replacement for the job on Friday.