The $1.7 trillion omnibus budget bill signed by President Joe Biden in the last week of 2022 will provide a much-needed boost to many government tech programs this year. Notable is the $7 billion in funding provided to the Indian Health Service, which for the first time will receive advance appropriations.
“Advance appropriations are necessary to ensure continued access to critical health care services for American Indians and Alaska Natives,” Indian Health Service Director Roselyn Tso said in an agency press release. “Predictable funding will allow us to disburse funds more quickly and enable IHS, tribal and urban Indian health programs to effectively and efficiently manage budgets, coordinate care and improve health outcomes for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
Historically, IHS' annual budget needed approval each year. Advance appropriations help in long-term planning by preventing gaps in funding between each budget cycle and ensuring stability in programs.
The additional funding impacts technology programs at IHS, which over the past year has advocated for resources to bolster its public health emergency preparedness and infrastructure, research, and physical and mental health care.
As with much of the rest of government, the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to the state of IHS' technology and the dire need to modernize it — such as telehealth and remote infrastructure.
Some of the funding in the bill is allocated to update and maintain the agency's electronic health record system. According to the bill, the funds are only applicable to the current system, and the agency would have to get Congressional approval to move to a new system.
Elsewhere in the bill, over $1.7 billion was allocated for the Department of Veterans Affairs' notable electronic health records modernization program through September 2025.