House Labor HHS Funding Bill Decimates Science and Medicine, Hobbles Innovation and Equity
The House Appropriations Committee released their FY24 funding bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies bill. This bill envisions a 30 percent cut to the agencies and programs it funds from the previous fiscal year. AcademyHealth’s CEO and President Lisa Simpson issued the following statement upon the release of the bill:
“Today, the House Appropriations Committee released a breathtakingly reckless bill that decimates federal research, science, and medicine programs, and puts the health of all Americans at risk. It is so extreme that many pundits presume it has zero chance of becoming law, but that very extremism requires that we respond quickly and unequivocally.
“As the professional home for individuals and organizations that produce and use health services research to make health care safer, more affordable, more equitable, and more accessible, AcademyHealth is deeply disappointed by the House Appropriator’s FY24 bill. This budget is short-sighted and unrealistic, and should be soundly rejected.
“This bill would eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in its entirety. AHRQ supports research to improve health care quality, reduce costs, advance patient safety, decrease medical errors, and broaden access to essential services. Over 150 organizations through the Friends of AHRQ made the case crystal clear – we need more support for this research to meet these challenging times. These organizations represented every corner of the health care world – patients, providers, nurses, hospitals, insurers, health systems, universities, think tanks, and more – emphasizing how noncontroversial it is that we produce the best evidence on how to deliver the best care equitably.
“As rural patients struggle with health care access as their hospitals close and doctors move further away, AHRQ has been a close partner for them. AHRQ formally recognizes rural Americans as a priority health group and focuses on identifying drivers of poor health outcomes, finding connections through telehealth, and tackling the opioid epidemic. Instead of working with AHRQ as it pioneers novel projects and programs for rural Americans, this bill abolishes AHRQ altogether.
“But this bill is not just about eliminating AHRQ, it is also slashing the innovation that makes America competitive and that eliminates health disparities faced by patients for racial, ethnic, geographic, gender, or socioeconomic reasons. It cuts the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) by two thirds. It burns through CDC at a time when we need to be building capacity – eliminating funding for Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research, Tobacco Prevention and Control, Ending the HIV Epidemic initiatives. At a time when public health agencies are calling for more data modernization, it cuts the Public Health Data Modernization program by over 40 percent. It eliminates programs that support needed diversity in the healthcare workforce. It cuts the Office of Minority Health by two thirds.
“The problems that we face in America’s health systems are serious, and we need serious support to solve them. The crises we face on the frontlines of medicine are not something to trivialize for negotiation posturing. As health care workers and patients alike are fighting a flood of misinformation and lies, we need Congress to be a partner in the production, dissemination, and implementation of quality evidence. We need the House Appropriations Committee to try again.
“And we need Congress to hear from all of us, loudly and clearly. Find your Representative here and tell them what health services research means to you, and that funding for effective, high-quality, high value, patient-centered care and research must be preserved.”