If spending large pots of money on research is any indication of a rather new institute’s efficacy, then the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute looks to be performing quite well indeed.
PCORI, created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was charged with funding and conducting research aimed at helping test the comparative effectiveness of treatment options.
It estimates that, by the close of its funding cycle Sept. 10, it will have directed the first $104 million toward research projects. It plans to approve up to $300 million more by Dec. 17, with a total for the calendar-year estimated at $418 million.
PCORI’s aim is to help create a large body of knowledge that would be the basis for best practices — both procedural and spending-wise — for a range of medical procedures.
Projects are expected to vary widely, from investigating how to prevent old people from injuring themselves through falls to exploring asthma treatment options for minorities and identifying treatment options for uterine fibroids.
PCORI is funded by a fee imposed on plan sponsors and issuers of individual and group insurance policies. The law calls for funding to continue through 2019.
The institute’s target is to collect about $500 million in fees a year to devote to research. It didn’t have that much to spend this year. It didn’t even have the $418 million it plans to spend.
But no worries. Although established as a non-governmental agency, PCORI acted very much like a government body in one way: The agency’s boss is fine with spending more than the institute is taking in.
“By the end of this calendar year, the funds we have committed will modestly exceed the funds available in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund at that point – that is, we will have committed future years’ dollars,” said Dr. Joe Selby, the CEO of PCORI. “We can do this because our commitments cover project periods of two or more years, so substantial portions of the committed funding will not be paid out until future years.
“We will accelerate this practice during the next two years, with plans to award upwards of $500 million each year,” he promised. “In this way, we can launch as much research as possible as early as possible and expect more high-impact results sooner.”