Legislative Changes in Research

Many changes in the overall scope of research and development have come to pass since the initial implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although the majority of conversation regarding the ACA is centered around the health insurance mandate, for many in the field of medicine, the impact of this act is much more far reaching than has previously been discussed. The ACA has provided a greater platform for funding research and development programs, as well as promoting positive changes in providing greater access to these findings.

The medical community continues to maintain a high profile in discussion that will further impact the roll-out of the ACA. In particular, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), has created its own resources to assist members in discovering alternative payment methods, as well as engaging in incentive programs that assist in avoiding payment penalties. Through the efforts of the AAN and other health care agencies and professionals, not only can the interests of the general public be preserved, but also the professional and business interests of those medical entities will remain intact.

The issue of access to research and technology has once again reared its inquisitive head in an effort to spark greater continuity within the research community. On February 14, 2013, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) was introduced to Congress as H.R. 708 and S. 350. Supported by both the American Library Association (ALA) and The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), the bill is designed to provide a platform for greater sharing of publicly funded research articles. It is believed that by opening access to these findings, a higher level of productivity in science and technology research, as well as a higher level of academic achievement can be attained.

Since the passage of the ACA on March 23, 2010, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) continues to remain vigilant in its efforts to clarify challenges faced within the healthcare industry. Most recently, the European Federation of Neurological Societies released new guidelines for the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease, which has been included in the AHRQ data base. Primary issues addressed include providing an evidenced-based, peer-reviewed statement of guidance for practice to psychiatrists, geriatricians, and clinical neurologists, as well as qualified physician specialists charged with the care of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The ACA also includes several provisions to direct discretionary spending toward specific components that increase the production and productivity of high-risk disease management, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. The ACA increased discretionary spending on a number of fronts, opening the door to greater research possibilities. Section 10409 of the ACA allocated approximately $10 million in 2012, with an additional $50 million requested in 2013 for biomedical research. Under Section 10409 these changes reflect the establishment of a Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) program, overseen by the Office of the NIH which will award cooperative agreements, contracts, and/or grants to support the development of treatments for conditions and/or diseases that may be considered uncommon, and where market incentives are deficient. Eligible recipients include both private and public participants, research institutions, biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, higher education institutions, medical centers, patient advocacy organizations, academic research institutions, and disease advocacy organizations.

The NIH continues to reach out to the medical community in an effort to provide much needed funding for research and development. Both the government and the private sector recognize the continued need for progressive and consistent tools for advancement in chronic disease management. Although primary focus remains centered on the health insurance mandate, the stage has been set to increase both funding and transparency in biomedical research and development.


American Academy of Neurology (2013), The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Largely Ruled Constitutional: Now What?.

American Library Association (2013)., The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR).

Redhead, C., Colello, K., Heisler, E., Lister, S., Sara, A. (2012, October 1). Discretionary Spending in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Congressional Research Services (R41390).

U.S. Department of health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (n.d.). National Guidelines Clearing House: EFNS guidelines for the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease.

Image via Mesut Dogan / Shutterstock.

Brenda Walker, MA

Brenda Walker, MA, holds a Master of Arts Degree in Health Care Administration from Ashford University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Care Management from Anthem College, and an Associates in Applied Science, priority focus in Limited Scope X-Ray. She had over 10 years of experience and a member of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. Her primary focus, recently, has been on the continued roll-out of the ACA, Medicare, and Strategic Planning and Implementation for small and private health care entities.
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