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October 26, 2001, Issue No. 36

AHRQ News and Numbers

The share of nursing home expenses paid by Medicaid decreased for all racial groups: from 69 percent to 50.6 percent for Hispanics; from 45.9 percent to 41.5 percent for whites and others; and from 77.7 percent to 66.4 percent for non-Hispanic blacks. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Nursing Home Expenses, 1987-1996, MEPS Chartbook No. 6.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. What do you think about AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Centers?
  2. Release of newborn hearing screening recommendation from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  3. National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database
  4. AHRQ National Advisory Council meeting
  5. National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  6. New AHRQ publications
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  What do you think about AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Centers?

AHRQ is soliciting public comments about its Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs). Contracts for the EPCs are being re-competed in December 2001. AHRQ is very interested in receiving comments about the current EPC program and suggestions for the new program (EPC II). AHRQ published a Federal Register notice on October 22 that solicits comments about what has worked well, what has not worked well, and what changes and improvements could be made. Comments are due by November 9. Select to access the Federal Register notice.

2.  Release of Newborn Hearing Screening Recommendation from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

AHRQ released a recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on newborn hearing screening, as a part of its ongoing mission to assess the evidence for a broad range of clinical preventive services. The USPSTF concluded that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine newborn hearing screening. This conclusion is based on evidence that while screening leads to earlier detection and treatment of infants with hearing loss, existing studies are not adequate to determine conclusively whether this results in lasting improvements in language ability in children. Concurrent with the USPSTF recommendation, the October 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) featured an article on universal newborn hearing screening based on a report that was developed for AHRQ by the Evidence-based Practice Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. The major message of both the paper and USPSTF recommendation is the need to collect better data from existing screening programs. Select to access the press release, and the Recommendations and Rationale statement.

3.  National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database

AHRQ released the National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database (NCBD), a new resource that facilitates comparisons of CAHPS® (Consumer Assessment of Health Plans) survey results across health plans, population groups, and geographic areas. CAHPS® comprises a series of surveys that are the current gold standard for capturing patients' assessments of the care they receive. The NCBD consists of 3 years of CAHPS® survey results collected by seven Medicaid sponsors and six commercial sponsors from across the United States. This marks the first time that data about consumer assessments of their medical care have been available in one place for Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial (employer-sponsored) health plans for use by purchasers, health plans, and policymakers. Select to access the press release.

4.  AHRQ National Advisory Council Meeting

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, November 2, at 6010 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD. The council will discuss these specific topics:

  • Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics.
  • Evidence-based Practice Centers.
  • The National Quality Report.
  • The National Disparities Report.

5.  National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

AHRQ has awarded a 4-year contract to ECRI to develop the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (NQMC), an Internet-based resource of evidence-based health care quality measures. The NQMC will link, using a standardized language and common platform, two well-established AHRQ resources; The first is the National Guideline Clearinghouse™, a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines sponsored by AHRQ, in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. The second is CONQUEST, a set of computerized databases of clinical performance measures developed by AHRQ. Through this new project, CONQUEST will be significantly enhanced and updated. The NQMC, which will be available in late 2002, will allow users to search the NGC and NQMC in combination and receive a report that lists evidence-based quality measures and guidelines.

6.  New AHRQ Publications

  1. Primary Care Practice-based Research Networks: Fact Sheet.
  2. Women and Heart Disease.

Print copies of these publications are available by sending an E-mail to

7.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Burnam MA, Bing EG, Morton SC, et al. Use of mental health and substance abuse treatment services among adults with HIV in the United States. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001 Aug;58(8):729-36.

Levin KP, Hanusa BH, Rotondi A, et al. Arterial blood gas and pulse oximetry in initial management of patients with community-acquired pneumonia. J Gen Intern Med 2001 Sept;16(9):590-8.

Turner BJ, Fleishman JA, Wenger N, et al. Effects of drug abuse and mental disorders on use and type of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected persons. J Gen Intern Med 2001 Sept;16(9):625-33.

Contact Information

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Current as of October 2001


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