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President Bush has proposed a fiscal year 2003 budget of $251.7 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is currently under review in Congress. This proposal represents a 16.2 percent decrease from the Agency's FY 02 budget level of $300 million. The proposed budget earmarks new and continued funding for five critical AHRQ programs: $5 million for the Secretarial Initiative to Improve Patient Safety research; $53.3 million (an increase of $4.8 million) for the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS); $4.1 million for the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP); $7 million for Translating Research into Practice (TRIP); and $2.5 million for the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS®).
The magnitude of the budget reduction, coupled with earmarked funds for these programs, could dramatically affect how AHRQ does business every day. Existing grants would be cut by 46 percent, and existing contracts would be cut by 31 percent. If this happens, AHRQ will solicit input from the research community and other stakeholders to help decide how to apportion the cuts and identify potential funding partners to continue important projects.
The five AHRQ programs that have been earmarked for continued and/or increased funding in FY 03 have had an impact on American health care because they have done more than just produce findings. These programs have produced tools that can be used to improve the quality of health care services, enhance patient outcomes, increase access to care, and/or reduce health care costs. To continue to make the case for the importance of health services research, investigators must make sure their research is relevant and that it will have a measurable impact. It is especially important for researchers to tell AHRQ when their findings have made a difference.
The budget process is ongoing and the Agency is continuing to accept applications. Select to access more information.
See "AHRQ's fiscal year 2003 budget proposal," in the June 2002 Health Services Research 37(3), pp. xiii-xviii.
Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 02-R080) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.
Editor's Note: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a FY 2003 budget for AHRQ of $308 million. This recommendation still needs to be considered by the full Senate. The House Appropriations Committee has not yet made its funding recommendation.
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