November 13, 2019 12:58 pm News Staff – The Academy is pushing lawmakers to turn over the funding hourglass for an integral family medicine ally that's facing an imminent deadline.
At stake is the $150 million annual budget of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a private, government-backed nonprofit that coordinates and supports comparative clinical effectiveness research -- including studies that are vital to family medicine.
Without congressional intervention, funding for PCORI is set to expire on Nov. 21.
"The AAFP supports the reauthorization of PCORI in order to fund the primary care research needed to extend our nation's capacity to design and implement vital patient-centered outcomes research and reap the dividends of that research to improve patient care," the Academy said in an Oct. 28 letter(1 page PDF) signed by Board Chair John Cullen, M.D., of Valdez, Alaska, that was sent to senators who are working on a draft funding bill.
PCORI is among the most successful creations of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but its initial authorization, which established a 10-year trust for the program, requires congressional renewal.
It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the AAFP has gone to bat for PCORI. The Academy joined scores of other medical, health and research organizations that signed a May letter(7 page PDF) asking House members to reauthorize PCORI for a second decade.
Citing a 2018 U.S. Government Accountability Office audit, that letter indicated that PCORI "is fulfilling its congressional mandate to develop and promote the application of solid methodology standards for conducting trustworthy clinical effectiveness research."
Meanwhile, subcommittee hearings for H.R. 3030, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Extension Act of 2019, were held in June, but the bill has not moved ahead.
The AAFP's more recent correspondence -- sent to Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va.; Bill Cassidy, M.D., R-La.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. -- encouraged swift introduction and passage of a Senate companion to H.R. 3030. The Academy reviewed a draft version of that bill.
The letter pointed out that, with primary care physicians conducting some 192 million patient visits a year -- 48% more than the next most visited specialty -- PCORI's efforts are uniquely vital to family medicine.
"Our health care system requires research into questions raised daily in those family physicians' offices," the AAFP said. "PCORI is needed to support studies that both involve and are relevant to primary care."
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