Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

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Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Key people
Joe V. Selby, MD, MPH Executive Director

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is a United States-based non-governmental institute created as part of a modification to the Social Security Act by clauses in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[citation needed] It is a government-sponsored organization charged with investigating the relative effectiveness of various medical treatments. Medicare may consider the Institute’s research in the determining what sorts of therapies it will cover.[1]

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute was established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[2]


The body is charged with examining the "relative health outcomes, clinical effectiveness, and appropriateness" of different medical treatments by evaluating existing studies and conducting its own. Its nineteen-member board includes patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals, drug makers, device manufacturers, insurers, payers, government officials and health experts. It will not have the power to mandate or even endorse coverage rules or reimbursement for any particular treatment. Medicare may take the Institute’s research into account when deciding what procedures it will cover, so long as the new research is not the sole justification and the agency allows for public input.[3]

The law governing the Institute prohibits it from developing or employing "a dollars-per-quality adjusted life year (or similar measure that discounts the value of a life because of an individual’s disability) as a threshold to establish what type of health care is cost effective or recommended".[4][5] This makes it different from the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which determines cost-effectiveness directly based on quality-adjusted life year valuations.

According to Cecilia Rivera Casale, Senior Advisor for Minority Health at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, PCORI "will have the opportunity to work with researchers to develop methodologies for addressing the specific needs of priority populations that traditionally have not been the focus of randomized controlled trials. This work is part of a more general effort to develop more pragmatic, less time-consuming research methods appropriate for these populations."[6]


PCORI is funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCORTF), which was authorized by Congress as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

PCORI receives income from two funding streams:

  • the general fund of the Treasury and
  • a small fee assessed on Medicare, private health insurance and self-insured plans. The act mandates a $2 fee, adjusted by inflation, for each person covered on a group plan.[1][7]


Funding from PCORI enabled creation of a network of healthcare institutions that allows analysis of routine healthcare data. Each participating site in PCORNet transforms their data into a format specified by PCORNet Common Data Model. This network provides ability to conduct comparative effectiveness research.


Congress established PCORI as a private, non-profit corporation, not as a federal agency, and funded this private corporation with a new federal tax, the “PCORI Fee” which will collect an estimated 3.5-4.5 billion dollars through 2019. The organization will not have to get annual appropriations from Congress and will not be subject to the usual financial controls imposed on federal agencies. Critics[who?] charge that PCORI receives only a cursory annual review by the Comptroller General, who also appoints PCORI’s board.[citation needed]

PCORI's duplicates other federal agencies work (CITATION NEEDED). Federal agencies already engage and supports similar comparative effectiveness research that PCORI is involved with. Although comparative effectiveness research activities were boosted by the Stimulus Act of 2009, which gave a special appropriation of $1.1 billion to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Secretary of Health and Human Services the sequestration reduced funding to NIH which ultimately reduced federal funding of comparative effectiveness research. Congress requires PCORI to distribute a certain amount of its funds back to the government’s Department of Health and Human Services.[8]


  1. ^ a b Sally Pipes, Obamacare Increases Large Employers' Health Costs, Forbes, (May 19, 2014).
  2. ^ Establishing Legislation
  3. ^ Kaiser Health News (2012). "True or false? Top 7 health care fears". Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Neumann, Peter J; Weinstein, Milton C (2010). "Legislating against use of cost-effectiveness information". New England Journal of Medicine. 363 (16): 1495–1497. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1007168. PMID 20942664. 
  5. ^ "Social Security Act §1182". Social Security Agency. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  6. ^ "Focusing on Priority Populations: An Interview With Cecilia Rivera Casale, Senior Advisor for Minority Health, AHRQ". Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2013-04-017. Retrieved 2013-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ How We’re Funded, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
  8. ^ Dear Speaker Pelosi, We've Looked Inside Obamacare And It's Really Bad, Forbes, (November 11, 2013).

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