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Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute: Just Another AHRQ?

If you want to grow the expense of health care delivery in America very quickly, then create two government agencies to do the same job.

From the 28 September 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, we read about a small paragraph in our new health care law that created the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). From that same article, here’s the PCORI’s mission:

PCORI responds to a widespread concern (eds note: emphasis mine. Really? What about the internet?) that, in many cases, patients and their health care providers, families, and caregivers do not have the information they need to make choices aligned with their desired health outcomes.

PCORI funding is set at a total of $210 million for the first 3 years and increases to approximately $350 million in 2013 and $500 million annually from 2014 through 2019. With more than $3 billion to spend between now and the end of the decade, PCORI will support many studies encompassing a broad range of study designs and outcomes that are relevant to patients, aiming to assist people in making choices that are consistent with their values, preferences, and goals.

We should recall that there is an agency in the federal government that already does this called the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ). The mission statement of this agency reads:

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. Information from AHRQ’s research helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services. AHRQ was formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

From another page on the same website:

AHRQ Agency Staff: Approximately 300.
Fiscal year 2010 Budget: $372 million.
Fiscal year 2011 Budget Request: $611 million
Research: Approximately 80 percent of AHRQ’s budget is invested in grants and contracts focused on improving health care.

Ahem. Could someone please tell me why there are two agencies doing the same thing and how on earth they’re different?

Wouldn’t cutting one of them be a good way to save about $500 million per year for America’s taxpayers?

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*


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