Skip to content Skip to navigation

Healthcare Organizations Again Go to Bat for AHRQ

October 19, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Healthcare organizations are once again urging U.S. Senate and House leaders to protect the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) from more budget cuts for 2017.

Last week, 168 organizations across healthcare wrote two letters, one to the Senate, one to the House of Representatives, urging them to “protect AHRQ’s budget from further cuts and provide the agency at least $334 million in budget authority, consistent with current levels.” The letter read, “We understand lawmakers face difficult choices in funding myriad priorities with increasingly limited resources, but deep cuts to AHRQ in the current environment are pennywise and pound foolish.”

It continued, “With the federal government being the largest purchaser of healthcare—more than $1 trillion per year and rising—it has a responsibility to fund research that determines how to make care as effective, efficient, affordable, equitable, and safe as possible.” This is where AHRQ comes in, an agency with the sole purpose of generating and disseminating such evidence, the organizations stated. “The health services research, quality improvement protocols, datasets, and tools supported by AHRQ are used in hospitals, medical centers, physician and other clinician practices, nursing facilities, clinics, and public health departments in communities across the nation to improve the quality, access, and value of the healthcare system,” the letter said.

In June, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved for Senate consideration a bipartisan spending bill that among other things, would cut AHRQ funding by $10 million to $324 million. Last year, AHRQ saw its 2015 budget of $364 million cut by about 8 percent. The research agency has long been disliked by some members of Congress who feel that the organization's work has not led to proven results. There was even a point last year when there was discussion that AHRQ would be terminated completely.

The proposed cuts in this bill would significantly undermine AHRQ’s role, the organizations wrote in the letter. “Understanding how to most effectively and efficiently deliver cures to patients through health services research is a critical component on the health research continuum, and one that has implications for health care quality, cost, access and ultimately patient outcomes,” the letter stated.



Insurers to CBO: Consider Private Insurers’ Data in Evaluations of Telemedicine

Eleven private insurers, including Aetna, Humana and Anthem, are urging the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to consider the experience of commercial insurers when evaluating the impact of telemedicine coverage in Medicare.

AHRQ Developing New Patient Safety Surveillance Tool

With the aim of improving patient safety monitoring, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently developing and testing an improved patient safety surveillance system.

Gates Foundation Awards $210M to UW's Population Health Initiative

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is awarding $210 million to Seattle-based University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative, with the funds going toward the construction of a new building to serve as the initiative’s hub.

AHA Offers Interoperability Standards Recommendations to ONC

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has offered feedback to the ONC on the agency’s draft Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) that it issued in August.

Survey: Healthcare Orgs Not Taking Mobile Security Seriously Enough

More than half (56 percent) of healthcare professionals believe their organization could be doing more to educate employees on HIPAA compliance and the rules around sharing protected health information.

Mount Sinai’s Research Arm Using Data Analytics to Address Health Inequities

The Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is partnering with DigitalGlobe to create the Health Equity Atlas Initiative (ATLAS), a platform that standardizes and maps population data in order to generate insights that address health inequities.