The AAMC joined 170 organizations representing patients and caregivers, health providers and clinicians, faculty and students, scientists, policy professionals, employers, and insurers on Feb. 10 community letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership expressing support for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The letter urges the Chairs and Ranking Members to protect AHRQ’s budget from further cuts in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and to provide the agency “at least $334 million in budget authority, consistent with current levels.”
In June 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill that would provide $324 million, a $10 million (2.9 percent) cut below the comparable FY 2016 funding level of $334 million [see Washington Highlights, June 10, 2016]. The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the spending bill with $280 million in budget authority for AHRQ, $54 million (16.2 percent) below FY 2016 [see Washington Highlights, July 8, 2016].
The letter describes the unique role that AHRQ carries out in “providing research that determines how to make care as effective, efficient, affordable, equitable, and safe as possible.” The letter goes on to point out that AHRQ tools and resources 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 health care system.”
The letter also explains that although developing cures is an important component of the health care continuum, “Understanding how to most effectively and efficiently deliver cures to patients through health services research is a critical component,” calling it “one that has implications for health care quality, cost, access and ultimately patient outcomes.”
Like most other federal agencies, AHRQ is currently operating under a continuing resolution that has temporarily extended funding until April 28 at a rate of operations that is 0.1901 percent below FY 2016 levels.