With New Funds Proposed for 2024, AHRQ is Poised to Tackle Critical Healthcare Challenges
By Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., Director, AHRQ
I am pleased to report that the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal released by the White House on March 9 endorses AHRQ’s work to serve communities nationwide. It offers a blueprint to improve healthcare delivery systems by reducing fragmentation and realigning incentives, which can improve the quality of care provided to all Americans, especially racial and ethnic minorities and those who live in underserved rural communities across the country.
The FY 2024 budget proposes $448 million for AHRQ—an increase of $74 million over our FY 2023 budget in appropriated funds. In addition, AHRQ’s budget will include $116 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund for an overall total program level of $564 million. This level of funding will allow AHRQ to help advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to tackle some of the critical issues facing our Nation’s healthcare systems and improve the quality of care people receive.
A key focus of our work is improving patient safety, particularly making investments in much-needed diagnostic safety research to prevent errors and delays in diagnosis, which affect 12 million Americans each year. AHRQ will invest $20 million in research grants and contracts to address diagnostic safety challenges and create infrastructure for continued diagnostic safety research. Contract funds will be used to disseminate and support the implementation of existing evidence-based tools and resources to improve diagnostic safety.
In addition to addressing those pressing issues, the FY 2024 budget proposes to improve care for patients suffering from Long COVID, increase the healthcare system’s ability to mitigate the effects of climate change and be more resilient during natural disasters. Several budgetary items also aim to promote equity in a healthcare system that too often fails minority, rural, and other underserved communities. This will especially enable improvements in maternal healthcare and opportunities to address the mental illnesses of despair that drive the opioid crisis, alcohol abuse, and violence in our society.
Details of the AHRQ-specific budget request are available on the AHRQ website, but among the highlights are the following:
- $19 million to support health systems research on delivering patient-centered, coordinated care to those with Long COVID.
- $59 million in new and continuing investigator-initiated health services research funding to improve the performance of healthcare systems in producing high-quality care, including $3 million to advance health equity in healthcare delivery.
- $11 million in new research funding directed to revitalizing and reforming primary care.
- $10 million for research to prevent, identify, and provide integrated treatment for opioid and multiple substance abuse disorders in ambulatory care settings.
- $5 million to expand behavioral healthcare activities by supporting primary care practices in providing integrated care in under-resourced communities and with under-served populations.
- $7.4 million to support the Administration’s initiative to improve maternal healthcare.
- $2 million to establish Centers of Excellence in Telehealthcare Implementation. These centers will generate essential new evidence to understand access, equity, and quality issues that may inform policy decisions.
- $7.4 million to advance the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to coordinate and align ongoing state-level efforts to develop all-payer claims databases to inform policymaking in the public and private sectors.
- $6.5 million increase to allow the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to expand the number of clinical preventive services reviews in FY 2024, thereby increasing the number of final recommendations in future years and increasing transparency and patient engagement.
AHRQ’s FY 2024 budget proposal underscores the Agency’s commitment to advancing healthcare quality through investments in research, practice improvement, and data and analytics. As an effective steward of these Federal resources, AHRQ will continue to promote the economy, efficiency, accountability, and integrity of healthcare in ways that have the most significant impact on the health of all.
As HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said at his budget press conference, “Our charge is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. As part of that charge, we are committed to advancing equity in health and human services so that all Americans can afford and have access to the care and support that save lives.”
This article was originally published on AHRQ Views Blog and is republished here with permission.