U.S. Should Spend More on Health Quality Research, Reinhardt Says
The United States should allocate more funds for studies that measure the quality of health care nationwide to help develop effective plans to provide care for an aging population and implement new medical advances, according to Uwe Reinhardt, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. Reinhardt, who spoke yesterday at a U.S. Capitol briefing sponsored by AcademyHealth, a health research and policy advocacy group, said operations research accounts for only 0.2% of the nation's total health care expenditures and called on Congress to "strike a sensible balance" between allocations for clinical studies and for research on the "appropriate use" of medical advances. The Bush administration has proposed a 16%, or $48 billion, reduction in funds for the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which conducts research on health care outcomes; quality; and cost, use and access. AHRQ has asked Congress to reject the proposed reduction and approve $375 million in additional funds for the agency. Reinhardt said that AHRQ research can help determine the most effective use for medical advances. "This is a tremendous opportunity to do this right, but you can't do it on a very small appropriation," Reinhardt said. He added that one of the "major challenges" in the improvement of health care is to conduct research that will allow quality advocates to make a "business case" for decisions to implement or reject the use of medical advances. In addition, Reinhardt said that funds for quality studies must remain the same over time to attract researchers to the field (Baker, California Healthline, 10/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.