Today the House passed two mini-bus appropriations bills to fund the government for the remainder of FY 2020. These bills are expected to pass the Senate later this week, and the White House has indicated that the President intends to sign the funding packages when they reach his desk.
AcademyHealth is pleased that the Congress continues to recognize the importance of health services research through its appropriations, and the legislation addresses several of AcademyHealth’s policy priorities, including stable support for health services research as well as the data and infrastructure necessary to do this work.
Specifically, the bill includes level funding of $338 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In addition, it includes $41.68 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a $2.6 billion increase over FY 2019 funding, and $7.9 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of $636 million. Within this total, the National Center for Health Statistics is flat funded at $160.4 million, including $50 million for an initiative to modernize CDC’s data and surveillance system. Of note, for the first time in decades, funding for Firearm Violence Prevention Research is provided in the appropriations bill -- $12.5 million for NIH and another $12.5 million for CDC.
The funding package also includes the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) appropriations bill which includes $800 million for the VA’s Medical and Prosthetic Research Program, a $21 million increase over the FY 2019 level.
AcademyHealth also applauds Congress for including a 10-year reauthorization of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) whose authorization lapsed on September 30. The reauthorization allows PCORI to consider the full range of outcomes data in its funded studies over the next decade. AcademyHealth has advocated strongly for this change which we believe is critical to understanding how other factors affect patients’ and clinicians’ ability to deliver the best possible care.
Taken together, the package largely maintains the ‘status quo’ in federal research funding, with its only major increases at NIH. However, we note that years of flat funding don’t account for biomedical research inflation, nor does it recognize a proportional need for improved translation and dissemination of critical findings from NIH and others into real world organization and delivery of health care. Looking ahead, AcademyHealth will continue to advocate for future increases for AHRQ that provide the critical support necessary to fully realize the promise of long term investments at NIH, respond to rapid evolution in the use of health data for research and quality improvement, and address health care costs.