Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 (continued)

Text of the Act that reauthorizes the former Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).



(a) EVIDENCE RATING SYSTEMS- In collaboration with experts from the public and private sector, the Agency shall identify and disseminate methods or systems to assess health care research results, particularly methods or systems to rate the strength of the scientific evidence underlying health care practice, recommendations in the research literature, and technology assessments. The Agency shall make methods or systems for evidence rating widely available. Agency publications containing health care recommendations shall indicate the level of substantiating evidence using such methods or systems.


(1) IN GENERAL- In order to address the full continuum of care and outcomes research, to link research to practice improvement, and to speed the dissemination of research findings to community practice settings, the Agency shall employ research strategies and mechanisms that will link research directly with clinical practice in geographically diverse locations throughout the United States, including—

(A) health care improvement research centers that combine demonstrated multidisciplinary expertise in outcomes or quality improvement research with linkages to relevant sites of care;

(B) provider-based research networks, including plan, facility, or delivery system sites of care (especially primary care), that can evaluate outcomes and evaluate and promote quality improvement; and

(C) other innovative mechanisms or strategies to link research with clinical practice.

(2) REQUIREMENTS- The Director is authorized to establish the requirements for entities applying for grants under this subsection.



(1) SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT- In its role as the principal agency for health care research and quality, the Agency may provide scientific and technical support for private and public efforts to improve health care quality, including the activities of accrediting organizations.

(2) ROLE OF THE AGENCY- With respect to paragraph (1), the role of the Agency shall include—

(A) the identification and assessment of methods for the evaluation of the health of—

(i) enrollees in health plans by type of plan, provider, and provider arrangements; and
(ii) other populations, including those receiving long-term care services;

(B) the ongoing development, testing, and dissemination of quality measures, including measures of health and functional outcomes;

(C) the compilation and dissemination of health care quality measures developed in the private and public sector;

(D) assistance in the development of improved health care information systems;

(E) the development of survey tools for the purpose of measuring participant and beneficiary assessments of their health care; and

(F) identifying and disseminating information on mechanisms for the integration of information on quality into purchaser and consumer decision-making processes.


(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, acting through the Director and in consultation with the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, shall establish a program for the purpose of making one or more grants for the establishment and operation of one or more centers to carry out the activities specified in paragraph (2).

(2) REQUIRED ACTIVITIES- The activities referred to in this paragraph are the following:

(A) The conduct of state-of-the-art research for the following purposes:

(i) To increase awareness of—
(I) new uses of drugs, biological products, and devices;
(II) ways to improve the effective use of drugs, biological products, and devices; and
(III) risks of new uses and risks of combinations of drugs and biological products.

(ii) To provide objective clinical information to the following individuals and entities:

(I) Health care practitioners and other providers of health care goods or services.
(II) Pharmacists, pharmacy benefit managers and purchasers.
(III) Health maintenance organizations and other managed health care organizations.
(IV) Health care insurers and governmental agencies.
(V) Patients and consumers.

(iii) To improve the quality of health care while reducing the cost of health care through—

(I) an increase in the appropriate use of drugs, biological products, or devices; and
(II) the prevention of adverse effects of drugs, biological products, and devices and the consequences of such effects, such as unnecessary hospitalizations.

(B) The conduct of research on the comparative effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of drugs, biological products, and devices.

(C) Such other activities as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, except that a grant may not be expended to assist the Secretary in the review of new drugs, biological products, and devices.

(c) REDUCING ERRORS IN MEDICINE- The Director shall conduct and support research and build private-public partnerships to—

(1) identify the causes of preventable health care errors and patient injury in health care delivery;
(2) develop, demonstrate, and evaluate strategies for reducing errors and improving patient safety; and
(3) disseminate such effective strategies throughout the health care industry.


(a) IN GENERAL- The Director shall—

(1) conduct a survey to collect data on a nationally representative sample of the population on the cost, use and, for fiscal year 2001 and subsequent fiscal years, quality of health care, including the types of health care services Americans use, their access to health care services, frequency of use, how much is paid for the services used, the source of those payments, the types and costs of private health insurance, access, satisfaction, and quality of care for the general population including rural residents and also for populations identified in section 901(c); and

(2) develop databases and tools that provide information to States on the quality, access, and use of health care services provided to their residents.


(1) IN GENERAL- Beginning in fiscal year 2001, the Director shall ensure that the survey conducted under subsection (a)(1) will—

(A) identify determinants of health outcomes and functional status, including the health care needs of populations identified in section 901(c), provide data to study the relationships between health care quality, outcomes, access, use, and cost, measure changes over time, and monitor the overall national impact of Federal and State policy changes on health care;

(B) provide information on the quality of care and patient outcomes for frequently occurring clinical conditions for a nationally representative sample of the population including rural residents; and

(C) provide reliable national estimates for children and persons with special health care needs through the use of supplements or periodic expansions of the survey.

In expanding the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, as in existence on the date of the enactment of this title in fiscal year 2001 to collect information on the quality of care, the Director shall take into account any outcomes measurements generally collected by private sector accreditation organizations.

(2) ANNUAL REPORT- Beginning in fiscal year 2003, the Secretary, acting through the Director, shall submit to Congress an annual report on national trends in the quality of health care provided to the American people.


(a) IN GENERAL- In order to foster a range of innovative approaches to the management and communication of health information, the Agency shall conduct and support research, evaluations, and initiatives to advance—

(1) the use of information systems for the study of health care quality and outcomes, including the generation of both individual provider and plan-level comparative performance data;

(2) training for health care practitioners and researchers in the use of information systems;

(3) the creation of effective linkages between various sources of health information, including the development of information networks;

(4) the delivery and coordination of evidence-based health care services, including the use of real-time health care decision-support programs;

(5) the utility and comparability of health information data and medical vocabularies by addressing issues related to the content, structure, definitions and coding of such information and data in consultation with appropriate Federal, State and private entities;

(6) the use of computer-based health records in all settings for the development of personal health records for individual health assessment and maintenance, and for monitoring public health and outcomes of care within populations; and

(7) the protection of individually identifiable information in health services research and health care quality improvement.

(b) DEMONSTRATION- The Agency shall support demonstrations into the use of new information tools aimed at improving shared decision-making between patients and their care-givers.

(c) FACILITATING PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION- The Director shall work with appropriate public and private sector entities to facilitate public access to information regarding the quality of and consumer satisfaction with health care.



(1) ESTABLISHMENT AND PURPOSE- The Director may periodically convene a Preventive Services Task Force to be composed of individuals with appropriate expertise. Such a task force shall review the scientific evidence related to the effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of clinical preventive services for the purpose of developing recommendations for the health care community, and updating previous clinical preventive recommendations.

(2) ROLE OF AGENCY- The Agency shall provide ongoing administrative, research, and technical support for the operations of the Preventive Services Task Force, including coordinating and supporting the dissemination of the recommendations of the Task Force.

(3) OPERATION- In carrying out its responsibilities under paragraph (1), the Task Force is not subject to the provisions of Appendix 2 of title 5, United States Code.


(1) IN GENERAL- There is established within the Agency a Center for Primary Care Research (referred to in this subsection as the `Center') that shall serve as the principal source of funding for primary care practice research in the Department of Health and Human Services. For purposes of this paragraph, primary care research focuses on the first contact when illness or health concerns arise, the diagnosis, treatment or referral to specialty care, preventive care, and the relationship between the clinician and the patient in the context of the family and community.

(2) RESEARCH- In carrying out this section, the Center shall conduct and support research concerning—

(A) the nature and characteristics of primary care practice;
(B) the management of commonly occurring clinical problems;
(C) the management of undifferentiated clinical problems; and
(D) the continuity and coordination of health services.


(a) IN GENERAL- The Director shall promote innovation in evidence-based health care practices and technologies by—

(1) conducting and supporting research on the development, diffusion, and use of health care technology;

(2) developing, evaluating, and disseminating methodologies for assessments of health care practices and technologies;

(3) conducting intramural and supporting extramural assessments of existing and new health care practices and technologies;

(4) promoting education and training and providing technical assistance in the use of health care practice and technology assessment methodologies and results; and

(5) working with the National Library of Medicine and the public and private sector to develop an electronic clearinghouse of currently available assessments and those in progress.


(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than December 31, 2000, the Director shall develop and publish a description of the methods used by the Agency and its contractors for health care practice and technology assessment.

(2) CONSULTATIONS- In carrying out this subsection, the Director shall cooperate and consult with the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, and the heads of any other interested Federal department or agency, and shall seek input, where appropriate, from professional societies and other private and public entities.

(3) METHODOLOGY- The Director shall, in developing the methods used under paragraph (1), consider—

(A) safety, efficacy, and effectiveness;
(B) legal, social, and ethical implications;
(C) costs, benefits, and cost-effectiveness;
(D) comparisons to alternate health care practices and technologies; and
(E) requirements of Food and Drug Administration approval to avoid duplication.


(1) IN GENERAL- The Director shall conduct or support specific assessments of health care technologies and practices.

(2) REQUESTS FOR ASSESSMENTS- The Director is authorized to conduct or support assessments, on a reimbursable basis, for the Health Care Financing Administration, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Personnel Management, and other public or private entities.

(3) GRANTS AND CONTRACTS- In addition to conducting assessments, the Director may make grants to, or enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with, entities described in paragraph (4) for the purpose of conducting assessments of experimental, emerging, existing, or potentially outmoded health care technologies, and for related activities.

(4) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES- An entity described in this paragraph is an entity that is determined to be appropriate by the Director, including academic medical centers, research institutions and organizations, professional organizations, third party payers, governmental agencies, minority institutions of higher education (such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic institutions), and consortia of appropriate research entities established for the purpose of conducting technology assessments.


(1) IN GENERAL- The Director shall develop and disseminate a report on evidence-based clinical practices for—

(A) the examination and treatment by health professionals of individuals who are victims of sexual assault (including child molestation) or attempted sexual assault; and

(B) the training of health professionals, in consultation with the Health Resources and Services Administration, on performing medical evidentiary examinations of individuals who are victims of child abuse or neglect, sexual assault, elder abuse, or domestic violence.

(2) CERTAIN CONSIDERATIONS- In identifying the issues to be addressed by the report, the Director shall, to the extent practicable, take into consideration the expertise and experience of Federal and State law enforcement officials regarding the victims referred to in paragraph (1), and of other appropriate public and private entities (including medical societies, victim services organizations, sexual assault prevention organizations, and social services organizations).



(1) IN GENERAL- To avoid duplication and ensure that Federal resources are used efficiently and effectively, the Secretary, acting through the Director, shall coordinate all research, evaluations, and demonstrations related to health services research, quality measurement and quality improvement activities undertaken and supported by the Federal Government.

(2) SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES- The Director, in collaboration with the appropriate Federal officials representing all concerned executive agencies and departments, shall develop and manage a process to—

(A) improve interagency coordination, priority setting, and the use and sharing of research findings and data pertaining to Federal quality improvement programs, technology assessment, and health services research;

(B) strengthen the research information infrastructure, including databases, pertaining to Federal health services research and health care quality improvement initiatives;

(C) set specific goals for participating agencies and departments to further health services research and health care quality improvement; and

(D) strengthen the management of Federal health care quality improvement programs.


(1) IN GENERAL- To provide Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other relevant departments with an independent, external review of their quality oversight, quality improvement and quality research programs, the Secretary shall enter into a contract with the Institute of Medicine—

(A) to describe and evaluate current quality improvement, quality research and quality monitoring processes through—

(i) an overview of pertinent health services research activities and quality improvement efforts conducted by all Federal programs, with particular attention paid to those under titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Social Security Act; and

(ii) a summary of the partnerships that the Department of Health and Human Services has pursued with private accreditation, quality measurement and improvement organizations; and

(B) to identify options and make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of quality improvement programs through—

(i) the improved coordination of activities across the medicare, medicaid and child health insurance programs under titles XVIII, XIX and XXI of the Social Security Act and health services research programs;

(ii) the strengthening of patient choice and participation by incorporating state-of-the-art quality monitoring tools and making information on quality available; and

(iii) the enhancement of the most effective programs, consolidation as appropriate, and elimination of duplicative activities within various Federal agencies.


(A) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall enter into a contract with the Institute of Medicine for the preparation—

(i) not later than 12 months after the date of the enactment of this title, of a report providing an overview of the quality improvement programs of the Department of Health and Human Services for the medicare, medicaid, and CHIP programs under titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Social Security Act; and

(ii) not later than 24 months after the date of the enactment of this title, of a final report containing recommendations.

(B) REPORTS- The Secretary shall submit the reports described in subparagraph (A) to the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Commerce of the House of Representatives.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created December 1999
Internet Citation: Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 (continued). Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.