Today marks the end of funding to support the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC). This is a direct result of the $30 million cut to AHRQ in fiscal 2016 (which AcademyHealth advocated against.) Cuts like these make it impossible for the agency to save the NGC without new funding.
Just last month, we posted our statement on the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies fiscal 2019 spending bill. Our statement notes the impending shut down of the NGC stating: “This bill locks these losses in place and further imperils important, life-saving research.”
While the NGC plays an important role in clinical decision-making, AHRQ was forced to make hard decisions about how to use limited funds. Without restoring AHRQ funding to sustainable levels, the resource constraints are such that funding this program will mean cutting another from within AHRQ’s domain. In other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul within AHRQ’s already insufficient budget will not help the agency or the constituencies it supports.
That’s why we are seeking $454 million in budget authority for the agency in fiscal 2019 to bring funding back to fiscal 2010 levels (adjusted for inflation). This level of funding would allow AHRQ to restore important programs like the NGC and National Quality Measures Clearinghouse. And if we are successful in elevating AHRQ’s appropriated budget to a sufficient level, the Agency won’t have to make these types of difficult decisions.
AHRQ’s mission is to generate the evidence necessary to build a high-quality, high-value health care system. AHRQ-funded research is being used in hospitals, private practices, health departments, and communities across the nation to make our health care system more efficient and effective. We need more of it, not less.
As always, AcademyHealth will maintain a close eye on appropriations developments in the House and Sentate and stands ready to act on behalf of our members and field.