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Agency reauthorization passes with wide bipartisan support

The U.S. Congress has passed and President Clinton has signed into law legislation reauthorizing the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). Under the legislation, AHCPR will now be known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In signing the legislation, President Clinton said that AHRQ will help close the numerous data gaps throughout the health care delivery system, and it will also serve as a bridge between the best science in the world and the best health care in the world.

As noted by John M. Eisenberg, M.D., the Agency's director, this vote culminates a period of rebuilding for the Agency from which it has emerged as an important source of unbiased, evidence-based information for the health care industry and policymakers. This action reflects strong, bipartisan support for the role AHCPR has played—and AHRQ will continue to play—in improving the quality of health care through research.

Although this legislation brings with it new research challenges and opportunities, it has strengthened—not changed—the Agency's core mission to support, conduct, and disseminate research that improves access to care and enhances the outcomes, quality, cost-effectiveness, and use of health care services.

Congress also has voted $205 million for the Agency in fiscal year 2000. About two-thirds of the Agency's budget is awarded as grants and contracts to researchers at universities and research institutions around the country. In addition, the Agency supports many other activities, including the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the National Guideline Clearinghouse™, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the evidence-based practice initiative, and the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans survey (CAHPS®).

Editor's Note: For more information on AHRQ and the reauthorization legislation, go to AHRQ News and Notes.

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