The president’s budget released today confirms the Administration’s earlier proposal to move the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) umbrella – as a newly proposed “National Institute for Research on Safety and Quality (NIRSQ)” – and reduce its budget by 16 percent to a funding level of $272 million. The budget also proposes additional deep cuts for the NIH. AcademyHealth will continue to review and assess the impacts of this budget’s proposals on the research enterprise as more information is released, but at the outset, we believe it to be an unacceptable assault on heath research and a threat to the important health services research our nation needs to protect patients and respond to rising costs.
While we are glad to see that health services research is included in the president’s request, the budget and structure as proposed are grossly insufficient to respond to the complex challenges facing our health system. We simply cannot afford to continue making cuts of this magnitude to research that saves lives, reduces waste, and helps address the rising costs of health care.
In this tumultuous time in health and health care, if members of Congress and the Administration truly want to improve our health care system, we need a long-term solution to supporting health research that improves the quality and safety of care, facilitates access to care, and addresses health care costs. That includes ensuring that health services research has a strong and stable federal home with both the agency and authority to pursue this critical life- and cost-saving research.
This document, which adds details to the previously released skinny budget, is simultaneously an unbinding wish list and an important signaling document aimed at communicating the Administration’s priorities to the Congress. As negotiations for fiscal year 2018 appropriations progress, we urge congressional appropriators to consider the many ways health services research can contribute to our immediate needs as well as our long-term fiscal and health care goals.