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House Spending Bill Would Imperil Research, Devastate Health Workforce and Quality Efforts

Washington, D.C., July 17, 2012AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., issued the following statement in response to today’s House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee spending bill:

“The AAMC is deeply concerned about this bill and its proposed cuts that go beyond the spending caps established in last year’s bipartisan Budget Control Act (BCA). If enacted, this measure would impair the ability of the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals to conduct the groundbreaking research that improves the health of the American people and identifies ways to improve quality of care. It also would severely limit the efforts of these institutions to shape tomorrow’s health care workforce to respond to the nation’s changing needs. 

Particularly troubling is the bill’s proposal to eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which supports initiatives to improve patient safety, eliminate health disparities, and provide other health services research such as the “Keystone Project,” which has proven to reduce central-line blood stream infections and deaths in hospitals. Eliminating AHRQ would devastate ongoing efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care. 

Furthermore, the bill’s rigid requirements for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant awards process, coupled with a freeze of that agency’s budget, would undermine NIH’s ability to support the most promising, scientifically driven research proposals at medical schools and teaching hospitals nationwide. These additional bureaucratic hurdles would stymie progress on life-saving research that leads to hope for better prediction and prevention of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, as well as new and better treatments. In addition, the measure would prohibit discretionary funding for patient-centered outcomes research. 

We also are concerned about the bill’s steep cuts to Title VII health professions training programs. Cuts to programs that improve the distribution and diversity of the health care workforce are counterintuitive at a time when more Americans will have access to health care and more health care professionals will be needed, particularly in underserved rural and urban communities. 

We urge lawmakers to reject further cuts to longstanding priorities, including medical and health services research and health workforce training. Reducing the deficit is essential, but not at the expense of the nation’s health.”   

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The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org/newsroom

Contact

Susan Beach
Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Telephone: 202-828-0983
E-mail: sbeach@aamc.org