Texas Border Business
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) joined Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a group of 31 Members of Congress in urging Congressional leadership to include $71 million in funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the next COVID-19 relief package. This funding would give AHRQ the capacity to evaluate the U.S. health care system’s response to the pandemic, pinpoint shortcomings, and improve national preparedness for future crises. AHRQ is the country’s sole federal agency focused on generating research to advance health care delivery system efficiency.
“AHRQ-funded research and databases allow us to understand where waste, inefficiencies, and gaps exist within the health care system, and allows patients, payers, providers, and others to harness American innovation and make the health care system safer, more efficient, and more effective,” the House members wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies and Ranking Member Tom Cole (OK-04). A similar letter was sent to Senate leadership. “This research and focus make AHRQ indispensable in our efforts to respond to, understand, and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in our healthcare system. No other HHS agency is currently engaged in evaluating the health care sector’s response to this pandemic.”
Among other priorities, the Members of Congress emphasized the need to have AHRQ evaluate telehealth obstacles for vulnerable populations, as well as telehealth privacy concerns, deficiencies in the supply chain resulting in ventilator and personal protective equipment shortages, and care delivery, planning, and capacity shortfalls.
The House of Representatives letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), David Trone (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Val Demings (D-FL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bill Foster (D-IL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Katie Porter (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and John Yarmuth (D-KY). The Senate letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
The full text of the letter to House leadership is available here.