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Trump budget blueprint could help health insurance IT vendors

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The Trump administration has sketched out a vision of the federal budget that could create opportunities for health claim information technology companies.

The administration has included hints at possible contracting opportunities in a budget blueprint for federal fiscal year 2018. Federal fiscal year 2018 will start Oct. 1.

Related: Obama budget blueprint impacts life & health insurance industries

The blueprint gives the public a rough idea of what the administration wants its formal budget proposal to look like. The numbers could look much different in the formal budget proposal, and Congress may make much more dramatic changes once it gets to work on the budget.

But, for now, the administration is asking to cut discretionary spending 1.2 percent, to $1.15 trillion. Economists expect the United States to generate about $20 trillion in gross domestic product in 2018. Discretionary spending would amount to about 6 percent of the total.

The initial calls for dramatic cuts in funding for two departments involved in overseeing health insurance and other employee benefits.

Funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, excluding spending on benefits associated with Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act premium tax credit, and other entitlement programs, could fall 16 percent, to $65 billion.

Funding for the U.S. Department of Labor might fall 21 percent, to $9.6 billion.

The administration leaves out any specific references to funding for ACA-related activities or for activities related to other benefits laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

In the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs section, however, the administration says it wants to increase discretionary spending by $4.6 billion to “improve patient access and timeliness of medical care services.”

The blueprint version of the budget “continues critical investments aimed at optimizing productivity and transforming VA’s claims processes,” the administration says.

The blueprint budget “invests in information technology to improve the efficiency and efficacy of VA services,” the administration says, adding that the budget “avoids the cost of maintaining outdated, inefficient systems.”

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In the HHS section, the administration says it would achieve part of the 16 percent reduction in spending by supporting “efficient operations for Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

The budget blueprint “focuses spending on the highest priority activities necessary to effectively operate these programs,” the administration says.

But the administration says it would add funding for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program. Increased spending at the HCFAC program could lead to new orders for information systems that can help investigators sift through medical claim data for signs of fraud and abuse.

In the Department of Homeland Security section, the administration says the budget blueprint would provide $1.5 billion for cybersecurity activities, without specifying whether the $1.5 billion allocation would represent an increase in spending or an effort to hold existing spending steady.

But Homeland Security would “protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from an attack,” and the department “would share more cybersecurity incident information with other federal agencies and the private sector.”

In some cases, in the past, the government has classified major insurance information networks as being part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Insurers, producers and benefit plan administrations face tough federal data security and breach notification requirements, which expose them to the risk of having to pay large fines if they are hacked.

Any major Homeland Security efforts to improve data security could create opportunities for companies that help financial services companies with data security, and successful efforts could help reduce hacking-related losses. 


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