Although it's not likely to advance, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is de-funded under a spending bill approved on July 18 by the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee. Under the spending bill, AHRQ is eliminated and any patient-centered outcomes research and all economic research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is prohibited. At this time, the full House Appropriations Committee has not set a date to act on the bill, and it is uncertain how far it will advance in the House. In the Senate, the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 14 approved $364 million for AHRQ’s base budget.
The ACC has long supported AHRQ and participates in a coalition that advocates for AHRQ funding, the Friends of AHRQ. Earlier this year, the ACC testified before the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee about the importance of AHRQ and health services research, among other federal programs. The College signed a Friends of AHRQ joint letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging them to reject the bill that de-funds AHRQ.
The new federal fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2012. Congress must act on appropriations by then to continue funding federal agencies. In most recent years, lacking the necessary enactment of the more than a dozen separate funding bills, Congress has defaulted to approving "continuing resolutions" to keep the federal government running into the new fiscal year. At this point, with the election looming, every indication is that Congress will once again resort to enacting a continuing resolution this fall to fund programs into the new year.