The following is a statement from Dr. Lisa Simpson, president and CEO of AcademyHealth:

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations legislation. Starting with a spending level of $3.6 billion below current levels, there were bound to be painful cuts. Indeed, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is cut by 35 percent--a deep cut as the result of the woefully inadequate levels of available discretionary spending.

The bill isn't without its winners, at least some of which come at AHRQ's expense. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, receives a much needed $2 billion increase. As the Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt highlighted in a recent op-ed in The Hill, "Now is the time to prioritize biomedical research to increase critical life-saving medical treatments and high-quality cures available to all Americans."

Like health services research, biomedical research is a critical function of the federal government. There's no denying that investments in NIH help discover cures for patients and strengthen the economy. The Chairman notes, "NIH-funded biomedical research is the catalyst behind many of the advances that are now helping Americans live longer and healthier lives." But, if biomedical research is the "catalyst," AHRQ's health services research is the fuel to keep the fire burning. Without evidence about how to optimally deliver cures to patients, or how to make the best use of the cures already available on the market, NIH's medical discoveries will fall short of their promise to patients. These two agencies have important, complementary, and mutually beneficial functions.

AHRQ's unique role in collecting data and funding health services research on the performance of the health care system helps doctors and health systems develop and test innovations on how to deliver high quality care in less costly and more effective ways. Our nation 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. Health services research tells us as much as 30 percent of this spending is wasted on inappropriate, unnecessary, and sometimes even harmful care. Already, our nation spends less than one-tenth of one cent on health services research to determine how to do better: to deliver the best possible care, at the greatest value, with the best outcomes. Under the Senate's spending bill, we'd spend even less. With health care spending continuing to rise, can our nation really afford the short-term gains as a result of AHRQ cuts?

Chairman Blunt asserts, "This is a time of promise in medical research and the United States should be at the forefront of this era. To do so, we must commit to paying for the research to do it." AcademyHealth and the community we represent couldn't agree more. But our nation needs to invest in the full continuum of health research--basic, clinical, prevention, health services, and translational research--to get the best return on NIH investments. AHRQ is a critical pillar of America's health research enterprise, and worthy of fully restored funding in fiscal year 2016.

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