AcademyHealth is pleased to see that the President’s FY22 budget proposal includes a $42 million increase in discretionary funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly revealed the weaknesses in the U.S. health care system and medical supply chains. Additionally, we have all seen the deep racial and ethnic inequities within and beyond health care as people of color have disproportionately contracted COVID-19, suffered worse outcomes, having less access to diagnostics, vaccinations, treatments, and are dying at higher rates – all of which are amplified by a crisis of worse health access and outcomes driven by structural racism. Patients of rural areas also have experienced striking divergences from the national or even statewide norms that in many ways mirror those experienced by minority groups.
AHRQ is the federal agency that supports research to improve health care quality, reduce costs, advance patient safety, decrease medical errors, and broaden access to essential services. The President’s Budget is a clear recognition that AHRQ is the bridge between discovering cures and delivering care by providing evidence-driven, “last-mile” health outcomes.
AcademyHealth joined over 120 other health care organizations – from payers to patient advocates to doctors to nurses to researchers to universities – in calling for AHRQ to be fully funded in FY22 at $500 million to meet the challenges that our health care system faces. Although the proposed budget brings a much-needed investment, it leaves AHRQ at only $380 million in discretionary funding for FY22. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to fully fund AHRQ in FY22, and ensure that the Agency has the resources that it needs to remove barriers to health care access, eliminate health inequities, and support patient-oriented primary care.