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This would be a good time to be in D.C.

With the recent passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the economic stimulus plan, Washington is abuzz with ideas and strategies of how to implement the new law, including the $19.2 billion allocated for health IT.

Of note, Health Affairs is holding a half-day briefing next Tuesday on stimulating HIT. It’s from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Click here for RSVP information.

This week, as in tomorrow, the Cato Institute is holding a policy forum on the comparative-effectiveness research portion of ARRA. The event, set for noon at Cato’s headquarters, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., is titled, “Should Government Deliver Comparative-Effectiveness Research – or Can It?” There also will be a live Webcast from the same link.

Seriously, though, what’s the point? We certainly know Cato’s answer to the question it posed: always err on the side of less government. While it’s always good to have checks and balances on power, it does seem like the train has already left the station on this one. This would be a good time, however, to chime in on the Obama administration’s other proposals, including the proposed Health and Human Services budget for fiscal year 2010. I’m sure there is plenty to criticize in there.

I also just noticed that WhiteHouse.gov will have live streaming video of the Katherine Sebelius nomination for HHS secretary at 1 p.m. EST today. That’s about 15 minutes from right now, so I’m sorry for the short notice.

March 2, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Clancy likely to stay at AHRQ

I’ve just learned that staff at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is operating under the assumption that President Obama will choose to retain Dr. Carolyn Clancy as agency director. As a non-political federal employee, Clancy stayed on past Inauguration day, unlike the heads of many other HHS agencies. Although the new president has a right to bring in his own people, the word I’m hearing is that Obama will not change leadership at AHRQ.

Clancy struck me as one of the first people within the federal government to understand the link between IT and quality, and I think it would be foolish to replace her now.

Incidentally, AHRQ stands to be in line for a pretty big expansion. The entire agency’s current budget estimate for fiscal year 2009 is $327.7 million, down from $334.6 million in 2008. But the economic stimulus legislation that the House passed last night gives $1.1 billion to AHRQ, at least according to the version of the bill introduced Monday. The AHRQ language starts on page 134. (As of this writing, the final text of the bill that passed was not online.)

The Senate companion bill, which is pending, calls for the same $1.1 billion appropriation (page 129).

January 29, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.