Austin Frakt tweeted a news release from AcademyHealth this afternoon that brought painful flashbacks to the health policy world.
The House Appropriations Committee has released its proposed 2013 budget for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, in which it "terminates" the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The budget proposal also cuts $150 million from PCORI's funding source, and prohibits any federal agency covered by the committee's jurisdiction from performing patient-centered outcomes research with other funds.
The proposal is, quite simply, insane. It's a direct attack on the only federal agency that produces research on the health care sector and the delivery system--research that is crucial to any effort to reduce unnecessary care, improve patient safety, and curb the increase in healthcare spending.
This budget marks a return to the bad old days, when Congress stood up against science and killed the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. It's not clear whether this is just dangerous political posturing that will die on the House floor or in the Senate, or if it's dangerous political posturing that might actually pass, but either way we'll be watching the story and keeping you posted. In the meantime, The Incidental Economist is collecting stories about AHRQ funding of valuable (or not-so-valuable) projects.
This program has received funding from AHRQ in the past, including funding for the Avoiding Avoidable Care meeting. That funding has not colored our perspective on this--we would be ardent supporters of the Agency and of evidence-based medicine regardless.