Rep. Gonzalez backs colleagues on $71M healthcare ask

Citing opportunities to continue the fight against the coronavirus locally, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, is among nearly three dozen members of Congress urging for $71 million in funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the next COVID-19 relief package.

A letter urging for the funds was signed by Gonzalez and 30 other of his colleagues in Congress, addressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Chair Rosa DeLauro and Ranking Member Tom Cole.

According to a news release Gonzalez’s office issued Monday morning, the funding will give AHRQ the capacity to evaluate the U.S. healthcare system’s response to the pandemic, identify shortcomings and improve national preparedness for future crises.

AHRQ is the sole federal agency in the U.S. focused on generating research to improve the efficiency of the healthcare delivery system.

“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 letter stated.

“This research and focus makes 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.”

The congressional members also emphasized the need to have telehealth evaluated by AHRQ for obstacles in 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.