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AHRQ Names New Director

April 29, 2016
by David Raths
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UCSF’s Andrew Bindman, M.D., to lead federal health research agency

Andrew Bindman, M.D., a primary care physician who has practiced, taught, and conducted health services research at San Francisco General Hospital, has been named the new director of the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Bindman takes the helm at a challenging time for AHRQ. In the last few years it has been a target for deep funding cuts or elimination by some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In 2015 the House Appropriations Committee voted in favor of a bill that would eliminate the agency. The final fiscal year 2016 omnibus bill, however, provided AHRQ with $334 million, down 8 percent from fiscal year 2015.

Bindman recently served as professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Biostatistics and affiliated faculty member within the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. He has led the development of an academic division focused on improving the care of vulnerable populations and a state-university partnership with California’s Medicaid program that promotes translating research into policy. Bindman helped to establish the association between access to care and preventable hospitalizations for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions (what are now called Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs). He has used PQIs to evaluate Medicaid programs and to design interventions to improve quality of care for low-income patients with chronic disease.

 In announcing the appointment, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “As AHRQ Director, Dr. Bindman will drive the agency’s three core missions of producing research and evidence to improve the quality and safety of health care and the functioning of the health care system, producing tools, and training materials to make sure that evidence is understood and used, and investing in data and measures used by providers, patients, and policymakers.” 

In 2009-2010, Bindman was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow who worked as a staff member on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. From September 2011 until June 30, 2014, he served as a senior advisor within the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation’s Office of Health Policy, where he worked to establish new Medicare payment codes for transitional care and chronic care management. From July 2014 until November 2015, he was a senior advisor to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, where he helped to launch the Innovation Accelerator Program to support care transformation in State Medicaid programs.