Bush budget includes money for health care IT

Filed under: Health Care |

The proposed 2008 federal budget includes millions of dollars for the Department of Health and Human Services in the areas of bio-surveillance, electronic health records and chronic care management.
The suggested $118 million would go to the office of the national coordinator for health information technology within HHS. The level is the same as requested for 2007, but has not yet been acted on by Congress. Currently, the office is funded at the 2006 level of $61 million under a continuing resolution.
As part of the budget request, the office would fund up to 12 pilot programs for the information technology projects.
Other initiatives continuing under the proposed budget include protecting electronic health information, trial implementations of architectures for a national health information network, developing personal health records architectures, developing and harmonizing data standards, supporting the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology and supporting state consensus about health information technology policies.

Colorado ranks average for autism prevalence

A national study by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Network shows the prevalence of autism in Colorado to be slightly lower than the average of the 14 states included in the research.
The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Colorado data showed the prevalence rate of autism to be 5.9 of 1,000 for children who were 8 years old in 2002. The rate was higher among boys, at 9.9 of 1000.
This was slightly lower than the 14-state average of 6.6 children of 1,000. Among participating states, Alabama had the lowest prevalence at 3.3 per 1,000, while New Jersey showed the highest rate at 10.6 per 1,000.
“Autism is a serous public concern affecting many children. This information points out the challenge for families, health care systems and schools that care for, diagnose and provide services for these children,” said Lisa Miller, director of the division of Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In Colorado, the sample for the survey data was provided by two metropolitan counties, Arapahoe and Boulder. For the study, children with autism were identified through screening and evaluation of records at schools and health care sites. School special education records provided the information that identified 46 percent of the children with autism.
The full report can be found at www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For information about Colorado’s current work in studying the causes of autism, visit www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/crcsn/autism/autismstudy.pdf.

Coverage grants available for families

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is offering grants to pay for medical services not fully covered by health insurance.
Parents and caretakers are eligible to apply for grants of up to $5,000 for services that will help improve their children’s health and quality of life. Examples of the types of medical services covered by the grants include speech therapy; physical therapy and psychotherapy; medical equipment such as wheelchairs, braces, hearing aids and eyeglasses; and orthodontia and dental treatments.
To be eligible for the UHCCF grants, children must be 16 or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and be covered by a commercial health insurance plan.
“Receiving a grant from the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation changed our lives,” said Karen Lucas, whose son Quinn required extensive therapy as a result of spina bifida, a congenital condition. “With the grant, we were able to take advantage of a special program that provides the right therapies and support needed for Quinn’s specific medical needs.”
The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is a public charity that operates independently of UnitedHealthcare and has its own board of directors. While UHCCF continues to be supported principally by UnitedHealth Group and its employees, it also accepts individual and corporate donations to help provide assistance.

Academy, Fort Carson hold blood drive

The Armed Services Blood Program will be at Fort Carson and the Air Force academy March 19-23 for a blood drive.
The blood collected will go directly to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — once it has been processed within the Department of Defense.
Military officials say that when an outside organization goes onto military posts to collect blood, the organization processes the blood then sells it to whoever needs it. If the military buys the blood, it costs the government about $680. Negotiations also are frequent — larger amounts of more common blood types for smaller amount of rarer blood.
The goal for Fort Carson is 1,600 units — but that goal is less than what is needed in Iraq for a single month. The Armed Services Blood Progam says that 500 units are needed each week.
The blood donated at Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy will be taken to Peterson Air Force Base and flown to Fort Hood, Texas, for processing. Within 72 hours, the blood will be in a field hospital in Iraq.
For more information about blood donation sites and times, call Joseph Van Dyke at 526-2549 or Lisa Belshar at 526-0423.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.