The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality could be working on borrowed time. However AHRQ has been funding health IT research for many years, it now faces heavy budget cuts or even the termination if Congress has its ways.
Either or not AHRQ sustains as an agency relies on whose version of the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill finally spreads in congressional budget negotiations. The FY 2016 House Appropriations bill calls for the outright termination of AHRQ efficient October 1, 2015 – which was the initiation of the new fiscal year – while the FY 2016 Senate Appropriations Bill would restrict the funding of agency to $236 million, a 35% budget cut from the earlier year.
Stephen Worley, deputy communications director for the Senate Appropriations Committee says, “Our committee faces budget constraints. Because of this, AHRQ, like many other policies across the federal government, analyzed a reduction in funding.”
For now, AHRQ is capable to operate thanks to a short term continuing resolution approved by Congress to sustain federal operations and stop a government shutdown. The legislation sustains funding for government policies and service until 11th December, 2015.
An agency spokesperson stated that, “AHRQ is continuing to do its work supporting evidence research to make better quality and protection of health care, establishing tools to assist in improving care, and producing data and measures.”
Federal Funding will continue for the time period and length of the continuing resolution, o until Congress accepts and approves FY16 appropriations legislation.
In accordance to Worley, “AHRQ is one of thousands of funding problems that the House and Senate Appropriations Committee will require resolving before government funding terminates or expires. At this stage, it is not possible to speculate on final funding levels for AHRQ or any other policy.”
Some lawmakers may need to de-fund AHRQ, but the agency has powerful supporters who have made known their opposition. Previous month, 195 stakeholder teams sent letters to House and Senate appropriations voicing their uncertainties over AHRQ’s future and emphasizing them to work together to enact sequestration relief and restore the budget authority of agency to $364 million.
The letter states, “We understand lawmakers face complicate choices in funding myriad priorities with extensively restricted resources, but deep cuts to AHRQ in the present fiscal atmosphere are pennywise and pound foolish. AHRQ-funded research tools and datasets are being utilized in health settings across the nation to assist us understand and make better complex and costly health network so that we can acquire better results for more persons at larger value. The research and data of AHRQ help Americans get their value of money when it comes to health care. We require more of it, not less.”
In FY 2015, health IT portfolio of AHRQ was funded at more than $28 million, involving an extra $4 million given by the Senate to work on HIT grants regarded to sufferer safety.
“We actually do play a distinctive role in doing research and the evidence on how health IT basically works to make better care,” discuses Arlene Bierman, M.D., director of AHRQ’s Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement. “There is nobody else that is exactly doing it the way we do it.”
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