AcademyHealth is pleased that members of Congress recognized the value in preserving the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the vitally important research contributions it has made and continues to make within our health care system in the fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus. Although there is still work to be done to meet necessary funding levels for the agency, by turning away from the much larger proposed cuts to AHRQ’s budget, Congress has taken an important step in support of the health services research that addresses our nation’s most pressing health care questions.
The omnibus continues to fund AHRQ at roughly 92 percent of its FY15 budget, which means that the research, tools, and datasets that help us understand and improve a complex and costly health system are safeguarded. It means that the life-saving research that supports our efforts to achieve patient safety, health care access, and the provision of high-quality care will endure, albeit at a reduced level. This cut should also alert the community that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to fight for this agency and to restore its full budget.
When considering the initially proposed 35 and 100 percent cuts in the Senate and House, respectively, this is a victory for evidence and research. With this omnibus, Congress has acknowledged the significance of the full continuum of health research, ensuring that the discoveries of basic science are translated into treatments and cures – and, just as importantly – that the evidence exists to ensure those cures are actually delivered to patients in the most effective, reliable and efficient ways.
We understand that AHRQ's total budget is reduced by approximately 8.2 percent, an amount reflecting decreased funding levels in AHRQ’s patient safety; health services research, data and dissemination; and health information technology portfolios. Although we are unsure of the specific details at this juncture, AcademyHealth will continue monitoring the situation and will update this post as any developments arise.
As the professional home for the producers and users of health services research, AcademyHealth and its members look forward to continuing to work with AHRQ to fuel the engine of health care innovation, and with members of Congress and other research consumers nationwide to translate that evidence into policy and practice so we can achieve better outcomes for more people at greater value.