On Budget Deal, Congress Should Save Money by Investing in Health Care Research

AgencyAcademyHealth Encourages Congress to Pass Bipartisan Budget Deal, Eliminate Spending Caps and Restore Funding to AHRQ, Agency that Finds Health Care Savings

For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2015
Kristin Rosengren

(Washington, D.C.) October 27, 2015—Amidst concerns by some conservative members of Congress that the newly-announced bipartisan budget deal would increase spending, AcademyHealth President and CEO Lisa Simpson noted that Congress could both invest in our health care priorities and save money by restoring full funding into the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee proposed eliminating funding for AHRQ, the only federal agency devoted to health services research and improving the safety and quality of U.S. health care. The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a 35 percent cut to the agency's base budget.

"Congress just took a great first step through this bipartisan budget agreement, which Congress should pass as quickly as possible. But in order to create a budget that both saves money and invests in our most important domestic priorities, we must not make foolish choices," said Lisa Simpson, President and CEO of AcademyHealth. "Our nation spends $3 trillion annually on health care—almost 20 percent of our GDP—yet we know that our health care system is too complex and costly and delivers sub-optimal outcomes. That's why Congress must fully restore funding for AHRQ, which helps Americans get their money's worth when it comes to health care."

Full funding of AHRQ would increase the agency's budget to $364 million, a miniscule fraction of our overall health care spending. The United States spends $3 trillion annually on health care—the largest share of which are federal purchases through Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, insurance exchanges, TRICARE, and veterans' health care.

Last week, Friends of AHRQ sent a letter signed by nearly 200 organizations and institutions representing patients and caregivers, health providers, scientists, policy professionals and insurers to Congressional leaders calling to restore full funding for the agency. In the letter, the signers noted,

"AHRQ is the only federal research agency with the sole purpose of producing evidence to make health care safer; of higher quality; more accessible, equitable, and affordable; and to ensure that the evidence is understood and used. AHRQ-funded research, tools, and datasets are being used in health settings across the nation to help us understand and improve a complex and costly health system so that we can achieve better outcomes for more people at greater value... We need more of it, not less."