Policy & Advocacy

AACOM Government Relations

AACOM Action Center

AACOM Spearheads Bill for DO Residency Fairness

Introduced in the 117th Congress by Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Sam Graves (R-MO), the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act ensures that Medicare-funded residency programs accept DO applications and their licensing exam, the COMLEX-USA.

Thank you to all who advocated for the FAIR Act during the last Congress and we look forward to working with you in the new one. AACOM continues to champion this critical legislation in the 118th Congress. Stay tuned for updates and ways you can help ensure DO applicants have fair access to residency programs.

FAIR Act Resources

Questions? Please contact aacomgr@aacom.org if you have questions and want to be actively involved in advancing this key priority.

GME Parity stats 

Policy and Advocacy News

HRSA Seeks Public Input on Healthy Start Initiative Program Development

HRSA recently issued a request for information on the design, implementation and evaluation of the Healthy Start program. Healthy Start is a community-based program dedicated to reducing disparities in maternal and infant health. HRSA funds 101 Healthy Start grantees toward that goal. Comments are being accepted through February 3, 2023. Please let us know at aacomgr@aacom.org if you or your organization plan to comment.

NIH Seeks Public Input on Proposed Changes to Grant Review Process

  • The NIH has issued a request for information on its proposal to revise its peer review framework for research project grant applications. NIH intends to change or eliminate scoring of certain criteria to reduce bias and the influence of an investigator or institution.
  • AACOM maintains concerns about the disparity in NIH funding for COMs, and through our collective advocacy, Congress acknowledged the benefits of osteopathic research and directed NIH to report back on the status of NIH funding for COMs.
  • AACOM encourages COMs to submit recommendations for improving the NIH peer review process and increasing funding for osteopathic research. NIH is accepting public comments through March 10, 2023. Please share your comments or suggestions with AACOM at aacomgr@aacom.org.

President Biden Signs Omnibus Spending Bill, Elevating Many OME Priorities

    • On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, P.L 117-328, which acknowledged the need for osteopathic manipulative treatment to address veteran pain, the benefit of osteopathic research at the NIH and the urgency to add 200 new specialty residency slots to address workforce shortages in behavioral and mental health.
    • These victories were the culmination of months of coordinated advocacy.
    • AACOM also advocated for the increases in funding for many priority healthcare agencies and programs, including:
      • $47.5 billion, a 5.6 percent increase, for the NIH
      • $579.3 million, a 10.5 percent increase, for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII Health Professions Programs
      • $125.6 million, a 3.3 percent increase, for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC)
    • The spending bill also provided historic advanced funding of $5.1 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) in fiscal year (FY) 2024. AACOM advocated for this important budget tool because the IHS receives most of its funding through annual appropriations, and prolonged delays in enacting spending bills can upend the delivery of healthcare services to 2.5 million Native Americans. The bill also includes:
      • Rural Demonstration Program – $10 million within NHSC to conduct a pilot program to evaluate the benefit to patient access and practitioner recruitment and retention of extending loan repayment for five years and $200,000 for providers serving in a rural Health Professional Service Area.
      • Rural Health Residency Program – $12.7 million to fund physician residency training programs that support physician workforce expansion in rural areas.
      • Student Financial Assistance – $24.6 billion for federal student aid programs, including $1.2 billion for Federal Work Study, an increase of $20 million above the FY22 enacted level.
      • Improving the Quality of Life in Tinnitus Management by Veterans – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is encouraged to work with academic partners, as appropriate, to address and improve the outcomes for veterans experiencing problematic tinnitus. VA is encouraged to consider academic institution factors such as proximity to operational military bases, the presence of Nurse Practitioner/Doctor of Nursing Practice/Doctorate programs and the presence of Osteopathic Medicine and Engineering programs.
      • Medical School Affiliations – The Committee encourages the Veterans Health Administration and the Office of Academic Affiliations to further align academic partnerships with training opportunities and patient needs of veterans in surrounding communities.
      • Indian Health Professions – $80.5 million for Indian health professions, which includes an additional $5 million for the loan repayment program.
    • For a more comprehensive breakdown and analysis of the spending bill, see AACOM’s summary.

Advocate in the New Year – COM Representation for the 118th Congress

The 118th Congress is now in session and it’s the perfect time to recommit to your advocacy goals. To support your efforts, AACOM released an updated COM Congressional Representation Map listing the Representative and Senators for each COM location. We encourage our advocates to use this resource and the AACOM Action Center to contact your lawmakers in support of osteopathic priorities. We also encourage more frequent engagement with your Members of Congress. The AACOM Government Relations team is happy to work with you to set up meetings and develop relationships with your House and Senate members. The new session presents a great opportunity to reach out to new members and strengthen relationships with existing ones. If interested, please contact us at aacomgr@aacom.org.

Osteopathic Medical Students: Apply Now for the 2023-24 Osteopathic Health Policy Internship

AACOM GR is currently accepting applications for the 2023-2024 Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) Program, a unique eight-week virtual internship for osteopathic medical students. Each OHPI will gain first-hand experience working virtually at the national level where they will be immersed in health and higher education policy development, analysis and implementation. Interns will actively participate in building support for AACOM’s policy priorities, including the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act (H.R. 8850), increasing National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for osteopathic researchers and more. Applications are due Friday, February 17, 2023 at 11:59 PM ET. Learn more.

Ishan Perera Advocates for the FAIR Act to Improve Health Across Virginia

Ishan Perera, a second-year student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Virginia Campus (VCOM-Virginia), advocates for the FAIR Act (H.R. 8850) because, as a DO student in Virginia, he deserves a fair shot at residency training, and his community deserves greater access to care. Of Virginia’s 50 residency programs that provided complete data to FREIDA, 22 percent do not accept COMLEX-USA scores, 14 percent require a higher COMLEX-USA score equivalent when compared to the USMLE and 12 percent report zero DO residency representation. Learn more about Ishan’s advocacy and join him in urging Congress to pass the FAIR Act!

Join the Movement – Urge Congress to Pass the FAIR Act

Since its introduction on September 15, 2022, thousands of messages have been sent to Members of Congress in support of the FAIR Act. We are making a difference, and the number of cosponsors is growing. Your voice is needed to continue the progress toward ensuring that Medicare-funded residency programs accept DO applications and the COMLEX-USA. Act now to urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the FAIR Act (H.R. 8850) or introduce a Senate companion bill. Take action!

Congressional Elections Lead to New Representation for COMs, Likely Divided Government

While results in several elections are still pending, a change in party control for the U.S. House of Representatives appears likely as Republicans look to assume a narrow majority following the November 8, 2022 midterm elections. Democrats will retain their Senate majority following Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s win in Nevada, which gives Democrats 50 seats, enough for a majority with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any ties. A runoff election in Georgia on December 6 will determine the final uncalled Senate seat.

Divided government may prevent any large-scale policy change. More likely to pass will be smaller, bipartisan items of limited scope as well as expiring provisions up for renewal. AACOM will continue to work to advance our priorities in this new environment, including advocating for the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act, increasing National Institutes of Health funding for colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs), renewing authorization for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education funding set to expire in September 2023 and many others.

Redistricting and the election has changed congressional representation for many COMs as the 118th Congress begins in January. Below is a list of COMs with new or potentially new Representatives and Senators. For more information and analysis on the election results, see this National Journal slide deck summary. For biographies and more information on each new freshman COM representative, see this slide deck.

Webinar on CMS Changes to GME Funding Opportunities

By healthcare law partners Emily Cook and Drew McCormick of McDermott Will & Emery, this webinar reviews the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule that finalizes three key changes related to graduate medical education (GME)funding opportunities including distribution of 1,000 new residency slots, changes applicable to the Rural Training Track (RTT) program, and changes for hospitals who inadvertently set low or zero per resident amounts (PRAs) or FTE caps.  

Find federal funding opportunities, learn which Members of Congress represent the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine, and more.
Health Policy Leadership Programs
AACOM's Leadership Institute offers two health policy programs:  an internship for current DO students, and a Fellowship for practicing or teaching osteopathic physicians. 

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AACOM Government Relations
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