(Bethesda, MD) – American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) President and CEO Robert Cain, DO, issued the following statement regarding the recent enactment of the COVID-19 stimulus and fiscal year 2021 spending package as well the association’s Public Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress:
“While the chaotic images we saw at the Capitol last week will never be totally forgotten, we must take heart in the fact that our democracy is strong enough to survive these stress tests. When overcoming heated personal politics, our government does indeed serve the people as well as support our important work in developing America’s healthcare workforce. AACOM thanks Congress and the Administration for extending and increasing funding for several key programs vital to osteopathic medical education (OME) in their year-end legislation. The measure increases funding for health professions workforce training and scholarship programs, reauthorizes the highly successful Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program and provides funding to assist osteopathic medical schools as they work to support student learning amid the pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to stretch our frontline workers, communities and healthcare system to its limits, AACOM is encouraged that the spending package invests in efforts to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines. Our nation faces its largest vaccination effort in US history. Through our Students Assist America initiative, AACOM remains strongly committed to calling on our federal, state and local leaders to engage health professions students in the vaccination workforce to ease the burden placed on the healthcare community and expedite vaccine delivery.
Our country’s physician shortage was of serious concern prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic has shown us the dangers and wide-reaching, negative effects a strained healthcare system has on society. AACOM applauds Congress for recognizing the need for immediate action on this critical issue. The creation of 1,000 new Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) positions lifts a nearly 25-year cap and supports physician training at both rural and urban teaching hospitals. Expanding residency training will help establish the availability of a future physician workforce that is appropriately educated and trained to provide care both during and beyond this crisis.
AACOM lauds the passage of these important measures, and we look forward to continuing our work to advance federal policy priorities important to OME. To that end, I am pleased to release AACOM’s Public Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress. AACOM stands ready to partner with the new Congress and Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen the nation’s healthcare and higher education systems and promote federal policies and programs that invest in and support the OME community.
Throughout this legislative session, AACOM will prioritize elevating OME and will actively pursue opportunities to strategically position osteopathic leaders to impact federal policy. We will work to ensure that Congress and the new Administration understand the distinct role that OME can play in solving the nation’s healthcare needs and as a preferred pathway to medical practice.
We will encourage robust policies that foster OME and will continue to advocate for federally funded GME, federal financial aid programs and enhanced research opportunities for osteopathic institutions.
Osteopathic medical schools currently educate nearly 31,000 physicians—25 percent of all US medical students. It is vital that we work to ensure federal policies and programs support our colleges of osteopathic medicine and the entirety of the OME continuum.”
View AACOM’s full analysis of the year-end COVID-19 stimulus and spending package and our association’s Public Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress.
Director of Media Relations