RELEASE: CAP Urges ACA’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to Amplify Funding for Comparative Effectiveness Research

*** This report will be discussed at a CAP event this morning featuring PCORI dirctor Dr. Joe Selby. Click here to watch the livestream feed beginning at 10:00am .***

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress and authored by several drafters of the Affordable Care Act reveals that the independent nonprofit organization created under the health care law to be responsible for comparing the effectiveness of treatments options is falling short of its mission. The CAP report identifies recommendations to maximize the potential to lower health care costs and improve the quality of care.

Established under the Affordable Care Act, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, was tasked with funding and disseminating research that evaluates the effectiveness of two or more prevention, diagnosis, or treatment options, otherwise known as comparative effectiveness research, or CER. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, PCORI’s research has the potential to lower health care costs over the long term while maintaining or improving the quality of patient care.

In its analysis, however, CAP found that less than 40 percent of PCORI’s funding went to CER in the first four years of its existence. These findings prompted CAP to urge PCORI to rapidly scale up its investment in CER to at least 80 percent of its funding by fiscal year 2016.

“While critics claim the health law did nothing to control costs, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has the potential to bend the cost curve over the long term,” said Topher Spiro, CAP’s Vice President for Health Policy. “The institute must carry out a bold research agenda so that it lives up to that potential.”

The comparative effectiveness research funded by PCORI is a critical component of the Affordable Care Act’s mission to reduce health care costs while improving the quality of care. Unlike research on clinical efficacy that evaluates whether a single medical intervention works, CER evaluates the health outcomes, clinical effectiveness, risks, and benefits of two or more medical interventions, providing both patients and doctors with the information they need to understand the value of the available treatment options.

In addition to calling on PCORI to increase the proportion of its funding for CER, CAP also urges PCORI to ensure that investments in CER focus on studies that:

  • Address important gaps in evidence on treatments for common and high-cost conditions
  • Can produce actionable results in one to three years
  • Synthesize existing CER studies

With PCORI’s budget more than doubling in 2014, the time to push for improvements is now. These changes are critical to fulfilling PROCI’s mission and improving the health care system. PCORI must urgently scale up investments in CER to maximize its potential to lower health care costs over the long term and improve the quality of care.

Read the report: Comparing the Effectiveness of Health Care by Neera Tanden, Zeke Emanuel, Topher Spiro, Emily Oshima Lee, and Thomas Huelskoetter

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For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at