AHIMA Letter to the Secretary of HHS on Funding the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT)

December 3, 2004

The Honorable Tommy Thompson
Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, Southwest
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Thompson:

On behalf of AHIMA’s more than 50,000 members, I want to thank you for your efforts in helping our nation move the administration of its healthcare system into the 21 st century through the use of electronic health records and a national health information infrastructure. Considering the dedication shown by you, the President, Dr. Brailer, and countless others, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that Congress failed to provide the $50 million requested by the President to support health information technology efforts.

Considering the importance of the health information technology issue and the progress and momentum generated over the last year, AHIMA believes it is necessary to ask you to consider using any undesignated and/or unspent discretionary funds in the Department of Health and Human Services budget to fill the void left by Congress’ failure to provide funding to the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). Restoration of this funding is essential to continuing the momentum towards widespread adoption of standardized electronic health records and a national health information network within the timeframe established by you and President Bush.

With your support, significant milestones and achievements have already been made towards building an integrated, electronic, standardized electronic health record and infrastructure through public/private collaboration. As we continue our important work, you can be assured that AHIMA and its membership will continue to work tirelessly to educate and increase support for congressional passage of legislation and appropriations that will enable our nation to dramatically improve the quality, safety and efficiency of our healthcare system.

We appreciate your dedication and hard work and as always, we welcome any opportunity to work with you in this regard during the remainder of your tenure. If I can provide you with any assistance, please contact me at 312-233-1166 or linda.kloss@ahima.org. You can also contact Dan Rode, vice president of policy and government relations in our Washington DC office at 202-659-9440 or dan.rode@ahima.org.


Linda L. Kloss, RHIA, CAE
Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

cc: Melanie Brodnik, PhD, RHIA, 2004 AHIMA President
Dan Rode, MBA, FHFMA, AHIMA Vice President, Policy and Government Relations