September 13, 2013

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September 13, 2013 

United States Congress

CR introduced in the House: On Tuesday, September 10th, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) introduced legislation that proposes funding levels for federal agencies through Dec. 13, 2013. The federal 2014 fiscal year will start on Oct. 1st. The continuing resolution (CR) (HJR 59) would provide funding for federal agencies at $986.3 billion. Interestingly this House proposed level is higher than the $966 billion cap that is current law (BCA + ATRA redefinition + sequester). The Chairman’s summary of the CR is available on the House Appropriations Web page.

The House considered taking action on the CR during this week, but insufficient Republican votes required the bill to be pulled from consideration.

A bill, when passed, will go to the Senate where the FY14 funding level that appropriators are currently working with is $1.058 trillion funding level (appropriations committee 302b allocation).

Administration

Impact of AHRQ research: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently updated the Web page that features its Impact Case Studies. The page includes an interactive map with examples of where, how, and why AHRQ’s research findings, tools, and data are being put to use to improve healthcare.

National Quality Strategy update: Authorized in Section 3011 of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), the National Quality Strategy was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in March of 2011 and included three aims (better care, healthy people and communities, affordable care) and six priority areas (safer care, patient engagement, effective treatment, promotion of healthy living best practices, supporting innovative care). The law requires that HHS provide Congress with an annual progress report. The first report was provided to Congress on April 2012 and the 2013 Annual Progress Report to Congress is now available.

PCORI awards grants: This week the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced the award of over $114 million in grants to a total of 71 grantees. The awards support PCORI’s five national research priorities. These priorities are: assessment of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options; improving healthcare systems; communication and dissemination research; addressing disparities; accelerating patient-centered outcomes research and methodological research.

Rehashing gainful employment: The U.S. Department of Education published a notice, in the June 12, 2013 Federal Register, of negotiated rulemaking in regard to gainful employment. On Aug. 30, 2013 the Department released draft regulatory language that negotiators would consider during their discussions. Negotiators have met the week of September 9, 2013 with no consensus being reached in regard to support for the Departments draft language or development of committee draft language. A second round of negotiations will take place in October. Public comment will be sought on any draft language resulting from the negotiations, or if negotiators are unable to draft language, from the Department. That public notice will be in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking by the Department.

The Department continues to develop gainful employment regulatory language even as some members of Congress and the education community ask them to consider abstaining from doing so until discussions for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act take place next year. The gainful employment regulation that the Department originally implemented was struck down by a court decision in favor of for-profit institutions.

Additional information…

IOM report on measurement: Healthcare is complex and costly and impacts communities as well as individuals. Yet many of the measures we use for evaluating healthcare value are very focused, process oriented and not readily generalize-able from individuals to populations, from one population to another, or from one part of the country to another. This is the context in which the IOM Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care undertook its work to discuss how we improve measures of healthcare value in order to strengthen and sustain a learning-healthcare system. This Roundtables recent workshop is summarized in the recently published Core Measurement Needs for Better Care, Better Health and Lower Costs.

Viva La Evidence: Weary of public policy turmoil? Find a source of inspiration in this YouTube video about evidence-based healthcare!

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