Healthcare community fights to save AHRQ

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 - Money Sand

The fight to save the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), threatened with defunding, has begun in earnest.

In letters to the Senate and House of Representatives, 195 medical associations, providers and other healthcare stakeholders urged support for the agency.

The House Appropriations Committee proposed terminating AHRQ and the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a 35 percent cut to its base budget.

"We understand lawmakers face difficult choices in funding myriad priorities with increasingly limited resources, but deep cuts to AHRQ in the current fiscal environment are pennywise and pound foolish," according to the letters signed by the American Hospital Association, HIMSS, American College of Physicians, Yale, Columbia University Medical Center and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, among others.

"We hope Congress will work together to enact sequestration relief and restore AHRQ's budget authority to $364 million. AHRQ is the only federal research agency with the sole purpose of producing evidence to make healthcare safer; of higher quality; more accessible, equitable, and affordable; and to ensure that the evidence is understood and used."

With annual healthcare costs of $3 trillion in the U.S., supporters say AHRQ's budget is a relatively small fraction. "Health services research--through AHRQ--needs a dedicated funding stream. It's the optimal way to ensure the generation of evidence and data to make the practice of health care safer, more effective and more affordable for all Americans."