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Federal Issues - Other Initiatives Archive - 2012

AACOM GR Staff Attends CHF NDD Town Hall

On 12/4/12, AACOM GR staff attended a non-defense discretionary (NDD) town hall in Washington, DC. Organized by the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF), of which AACOM is a member, the event featured Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), current Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, as well as Joel Packer of the Committee for Education Funding, and David Lara of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The discussion revolved around NDD programs on the topic of ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations, as well as an overview of the current political landscape and recently introduced legislation to address tax cuts and across-the-board funding cuts, or sequester, mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Moreover, the speakers underscored the continued need for solidarity in the NDD community and highlighted that a “bad deal” in Congress could be more devastating in the long-term than sequestration.

Additionally, Emily Holubowich, MPP, Executive Director of the CHF, provided an update on various advocacy activities taking place and emphasized the continued need to advocate for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs.

The CHF is the oldest and largest non-profit alliance working to preserve and strengthen public health investments in the best interest of all Americans. To learn more about the CHF, visit http://publichealthfunding.org/index.php/ndd_united1/.

AACOM GR Staff Participates in CHF Hill Lobby Day

On 10/23/12, AACOM GR staff participated in the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) lobby day.  The lobby day was attended by 38 health orgs, 50 volunteers, participating in 50+ congressional visits.  The focus of the lobby day was to oppose cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which are facing an across-the-board 8.2 percent cut under sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  AACOM is a member of the CHF, which works to preserve and strengthen public health investments in our nation’s health care system and represents more than 100 million patients, health care providers, public health professionals, and scientists.

AACOM GR Staff Attends POLITICO’s Emerging Health Care Leaders Event

On 10/16/12, AACOM Government Relations (GR) staff attended POLITICO’s Emerging Health Care Leaders event, featuring guest speakers Tony Clapsis, Professional Staff, Senate Finance Committee; Elizabeth Falcone, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA); Josh Trent, Health Policy Adviser to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK); and James “JP” Paluskiewicz, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX). POLITICO reporters Jennifer Haberkorn and Jason Millman held one-on-one discussions with the featured guests, focusing on the impact of the 2012 elections and ongoing federal deficit negotiations on health care reform implementation and health care delivery reform. View the live video at http://www.politico.com/events/politicos-emerging-health-care-leaders/index.html.

AACOM GR Staff Attends National Journal Summit on Fiscal Cliff

On 10/16/12, AACOM Government Relations (GR) staff attended the National Journal’s Policy Summit, “On the Edge: Navigating America’s Looming Fiscal Cliff,” in Washington, DC. The event brought together policy makers and leading experts in economic and tax policies to discuss the significant impact across-the-board funding cuts scheduled to take place in January 2013 will have on the U.S. economy if a Congressional resolve is not reached, as well as short and long-term policy solutions to avert a possible fiscal disaster.

Moderated by Nancy Cook and Kristin Roberts of the National Journal, panel speakers included the following current and past legislative officials: Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL), Republican Chief Deputy Whip; Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Vice Ranking Member, House Committee on the Budget; and former Michigan Governor John Engler, President, Business Roundtable. Other panel speakers included Rosemary Becchi, Partner, Public Policy and Lobbying, Patton Boggs, LLP; John L. Buckley, Professor, Graduate Tax Program, Georgetown Law Center; Dr. Gene Steuerle, Fisher Chair and Fellow, Urban Institute; Jonathan Traub, Managing Principal, Tax Policy Group, Deloitte Tax, LLP; Stephen Bailey, Member, Heather Podesta + Partners; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD, President, American Action Forum.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

On 10/10/12, the U. S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  The case involves a challenge to the University of Texas at Austin’s consideration of race in undergraduate admissions. The Court is being asked to invalidate the Texas process under the Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger or, alternatively, to revisit the Grutter case’s holding.

Much of the discussion during arguments surrounded the definition of "critical mass" -- how a university can use metrics to determine when it has reached the right mix of minority students to achieve diversity. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, having been involved, in her previous capacity as U.S. solicitor general, in preparing the Obama administration's brief in support of the Texas flagship when the case was before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court is expected to decide the case next year.

AACOM joined with 28 other health professions education and medical organizations in signing on to an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) amicus brief supporting the University of Texas at Austin in its case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, et al.

For further information on the case, please visit: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/fisher-v-university-of-texas-at-austin/.

AACOM GR Staff Attends Inaugural Meeting of NIH NCATS Advisory Council

On 9/14/12, AACOM Government Relations (GR) staff attended the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) inaugural joint session of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council and the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Review Board. Appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), meeting participants comprised of Council and Board members who are leaders across a broad range of sectors and disciplines. The meeting provided a structural, programmatic, and fiscal overview of NCATS, as well as an in-depth review of the Center’s initiatives that are currently underway in support of its mission to minimize or remove inefficient bottlenecks in the therapeutic development pipeline. These initiatives include “Tissue Chips for Drug Screening,” which aims to develop a better model to predict drug safety and efficacy, and “Rescuing and Repurposing Drugs,” which promotes the development of a comprehensive database of approved and investigational drugs in addition to researching innovative uses from industry-provided drug collections compounds.

Additionally, NIH Director, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, announced that Christopher P. Austin, MD will succeed Thomas R. Insel, MD as the Director of NCATS, effective September 23. Dr. Austin has served as the Director of the NCATS Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation since the Center’s launch in December 2011.

For more information about NIH NCATS, visit http://www.ncats.nih.gov/index.html.

AACOM GR Staff Attends CHF NDD Town Hall on Sequestration Implementation

AACOM GR staff participated in the Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) Town Hall on Tuesday, September 11, in Washington, DC. Coordinated by the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF), the town hall featured Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Robert Gordon, Executive Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The discussion revolved around the potential impact of the United States government falling off the “fiscal cliff” if the across-the-board funding cuts, or sequester, mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 were implemented and tax cuts (for those with an income over $250,000/year) expired. The panel also discussed strategic approaches that those in the NDD community could take to further advocate to Congress a balanced budget approach to deficit reduction that would exclude further cuts to NDD programs.

Additionally, Emily Holubowich, Executive Director of the CHF, discussed various advocacy approaches that members could employ to work together to raise the visibility of their respective NDD programs in competing against those with comparably higher visibility.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 established caps on discretionary spending over the next 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and NDD programs. The law also created a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (known as the “Super Committee”) to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit over ten years. The failure of that committee to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered sequestration to take effect in January 2013.

To learn more about the CHF, of which AACOM is a member, visit http://publichealthfunding.org/index.php/ndd_united1/.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education Holds First Meeting

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education held its first meeting on September 4-5, 2012 in Washington, DC. AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, joined the public session of the meeting. The Committee was addressed by Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Robert Petzel, MD, Under Secretary for Health, and Malcolm Cox, MD, Chief Academic Affiliations Officer, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Eric Schoomaker, GEN (Ret), former Army Surgeon General, Scholar in Residence, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and a congressional panel, which included personal member staff and committee staff. The IOM Committee will hold its next meeting on December 20-21 in Washington, DC. A report is expected to be issued in the fall of 2013. For more information on the IOM Committee: http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Workforce/GMEGovFinance.aspx.

AACOM GR Staff Attends IOM IPE Workshop

On 8/29/12, AACOM Government Relations (GR) staff attended the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) two-day workshop, “Educating for Practice: Improving Health by Linking Education to Practice Using Interprofessional Education (IPE),” in Washington, DC. The event included panels, white paper presentations, and interactive small groups that examined the significance of and potential impact IPE could have on meaningfully improving health care delivery and services, both domestically and globally. Speakers and workshop leaders included George Thibault, MD, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation; Matt Wynia, MD, MPH, American Medical Association; and Lorna Lynn, MD, American Board of Internal Medicine. The event served to establish a foundational path for the prospective work of the IOM Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education (IHPE), and highlighted progression in the following areas in health professional education: curricula and instructional formation, interprofessional workforce capacity building, measurable processes and outcomes, and cultural impact.

As AACOM is currently a sponsor of the IOM’s Global Forum on IHPE, AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, is one of 53 appointed members of the forum. Thomas A Cavalieri, DO, a member of AACOM’s Board of Deans and Dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - School of Osteopathic Medicine, represented Dr. Shannon during the two-day event.

To learn more about the IOM IPE and about the workshop, visit http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Global/InnovationHealthProfEducation/2012-AUG-29.aspx.

AACOM GR Staff Participate in Rally to Restore Balance

On 7/25/12, AACOM’s Government Relations staff participated in the Rally to Restore Balance: Protect America’s Families, which was organized by the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF). Established in 1970, the CHF is the oldest and largest non-profit alliance working to preserve and strengthen public health investments in the best interest of all Americans. AACOM is a member of CHF, which together represents more than 100 million patients, health care providers, public health professionals, and scientists.

The rally was attended by more than 300 participants and several national media outlets, and featured speakers Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Congressman George Miller (D-CA). CHF speakers and the crowd called upon Congress to protect federal non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs from further devastating spending cuts and to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which passed into law last August, Congress must enact a plan to reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion.  The legislation put into place caps on the amount of money that could be spent through the annual appropriations process for the next 10 years.  A joint committee proposal cutting the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion failed to put forth recommendations to Congress, and as a result, an automatic spending reduction process - sequestration - will go into effect by January 15, 2012.  Sequestration will result in an automatic 8.4 percent cut to program funding levels in 2013 for most NDD programs.

For more information on the CHF, visit http://www.publichealthfunding.org/.

VA National Academic Affiliations Council Holds its Second Meeting

On 6/5 - 6/6/12, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Academic Affiliations Council (NAAC) held its second meeting in Washington, DC.  AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, who was appointed by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to serve on the council, participated in the meeting. During the meeting, NAAC members heard briefings on VA strategic planning and veteran demographics from Patricia Vandenberg, MHA, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning, Veterans Health Administration (VHA); an update on the status of the 2009 Blue Ribbon Panel on VA Medical School Affiliations and relevant research and regulatory issues; security policy and procedures and the impact on health professional trainees and academic affiliations from a panel discussion, which included expertise from numerous national associations and the VA; and an initiative by the VA to add approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians and approximately 300 support staff to its existing workforce of mental health staff as part of an ongoing review of its mental health operations.  The next meeting is expected to take place in fall 2012.    

NAAC was established in October 2011 to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on issues affecting partnerships between the VA and the nation’s health professions schools and universities. For more information on NAAC, visit http://www.va.gov/OAA/NAAC/index.asp.

AACOM GR Staff Attends NIH NCATS Press Event

On 5/3/12, AACOM Government Relations staff attended the National Institutes of Health (NIH) press conference announcing a new collaborative program between the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translations Sciences (NCATS) and three pharmaceutical companies to encourage the development of new therapeutics. This event was attended by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and representatives from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly and Company. The “Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules” initiative will provide researchers with $20 million in research grants from NIH and data on previously researched molecules from pharmaceutical companies.

This collaboration will greatly reduce the lab to market time and the cost of new drug development, which currently averages 14 years and $2 billion, respectively. The existing 2,000 compounds have known mechanisms of action and have already undergone the first stages of development, including safety in humans. Researchers studying one of 4,500 easy-to-target diseases will apply for a grant to study one of these molecules, and in turn will be given all existing data while retaining the intellectual properties rights of their discoveries. For more information, visit http://www.nih.gov/news/health/may2012/od-03.htm.
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