AACOM Analyzes CARES Act for Items of Importance to OME, Honors Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH, for Outstanding Advocacy



April 6, 2020

What You Need to Know


AACOM Mobilizes Health Professions Students in Response to COVID-19


The health care system in the United States is in crisis due to the spread of COVID-19. Shortages of equipment, supplies and personnel are devastating hospitals. As the disease hits more and more people across the nation, the number of fatalities is climbing exponentially. And yet, the non-COVID 19-related health care needs of millions of Americans still need to be met. of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, thousands of students across the health professions will have an opportunity to answer that call. Medical students and students from a variety of other health professions are being deployed in safe, clinically appropriate ways to help the nation’s health care system continue to function during this unprecedented pandemic. Read on to learn about AACOM's federal advocacy efforts in support of osteopathic medical education (OME) and our health care workforce.

On The Hill

Third Coronavirus Aid Package Provides Temporary Relief to Federal Student Loan Borrowers, Includes Support for Institutions of Higher Education


On March 27, President Trump signed into law a $2.3 trillion stimulus package that includes loans and support for major industries as well as direct payments to individuals and families. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) was the third of several stimulus packages Congress plans to pass to reduce the financial consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill follows the $104 billion signed into law on March 18, which included worker assistance such as emergency paid sick leave, food aid, and unemployment payments.


Among other items, the CARES Act provides temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers by suspending student loan payments, principal, and interest for six months; sends funds to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to the coronavirus; and reauthorizes public health extender programs, including the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program through November 30, 2020. .

AACOM Joins Letter in Support of Health Professions Education Funding in COVID-19 Stimulus


As the and continue to negotiate federal stimulus packages that would reassure and spur the nation’s economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, AACOM joined 15 national organizations in letters urging the inclusion of provisions that directly address the unique challenges faced by health professions students, schools, and the associations that represent them.

AACOM Joins Letter in Support of Public Health Infrastructure Funding in COVID-19 Stimulus


AACOM joined 159 national organizations in a letter to congressional leadership as Congress considers additional stimulus packages addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment is critical to support the public health system as it responds to the current outbreak, and will also help ensure it is better equipped to respond to future health crises, avoiding the loss of life and social and economic disruption we are facing today. By building the core public health infrastructure of states, localities, tribal governments and territories, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation should be better prepared for the next threat.

AACOM Joins CHF in Support of Continuing Social Distancing Policies


The Coalition for Health Funding (CHF), of which AACOM is a member, urged Congress and the Administration to , limit its long-term effects on the country, and oppose the removal of physical distancing recommendations per public health experts’ recommendations. CHF is a nonprofit alliance working to preserve public health investments in the interest of all Americans. The 91 member organizations together represent more than 100 million patients and consumers, health providers, professionals, and researchers.

AACOM Submits Testimony on FY21 Funding Priorities to Labor-HHS-Ed


AACOM submitted last month to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) Appropriations Subcommittee outlining its fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding priorities, including the Title VII health professions education programs administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration. These programs support the training and education of health practitioners to enhance the supply, diversity, and distribution of the health care workforce, acting as an essential part of the health care safety net and filling the gaps in the supply of health professionals not met by traditional market forces.

AACOM Sends Letters to Congress in Support of AHRQ


AACOM joined 88 national organizations in letters to and Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations Subcommittee leadership requesting $471 million for FY21 for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ produces evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and works with its partners to ensure evidence is communicated and understood. AACOM is a member of the Friends of AHRQ, a national coalition of organizations that advocate on behalf of AHRQ to Congress.




Sioned Kirkpatrick

Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH

Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH, Recognized for Outstanding Advocacy at Educating Leaders 2020


During AACOM’s virtual annual conference awards ceremony at Educating Leaders 2020, ED to MED honored Shawn Hamm, DO, MPH, as the 2020 ED to MED Outstanding Advocate of the Year. As a medical student at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Hamm was consistently one of the strongest voices advancing ED to MED’s policy priorities. Now, as a family medicine resident, he continues to be deeply and actively engaged in the advocacy sphere, embodying what it means to be a lifelong advocate. Dr. Hamm consistently goes above and beyond to elevate the voices of health professionals and patients, and we are honored to be able to recognize him for all that he does.

Advocates Speak Up to Support Primary Care Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


The third major economic stimulus package signed into law on March 27 extended the funding deadline from May through November for important public health programs including THCGME, which has a proven track record of increasing access to primary care in rural and underserved communities. AACOM thanks Congress for extending funding for these crucial programs through November, and urges lawmakers to also reauthorize the THCGME Program long-term, ensuring patients across the country will not face reduced access to care, worsened health outcomes, and increased treatment costs at a time when health care needs have never been higher. We thank our advocates for speaking up in support of this critical program.

Sioned Kirkpatrick MS

Sioned Kirkpatrick, MS

Strength in Vulnerability: Advocating for Wellness


Being an advocate means being vulnerable, which is synonymous with being brave. It means speaking up for and on behalf of those who cannot. With COVID-19 overworking our health care providers and isolating our medical students, Sioned Kirkpatrick, MS, OMS-III at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine and Immediate Past 2nd Vice Chair of AACOM’s Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, is sharing her story about the required to advocate effectively for mental health and wellness at a time when we need each other more than ever.



Administration and Federal Agencies

Federal Update on COVID-19 Efforts; Administration Extends Social Distancing Guidelines


President Trump has invoked the to address COVID-19. The President separately to expand production of ventilators by several other companies and announced the that were originally issued on March 16, encouraging the public to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, practice good hygiene, and limit discretionary travel in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued an interim final rule, along with sweeping waivers and regulations to adapt and respond to the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) continues to publish announcements on its and recently issued related to interruptions of study due to the virus. Additionally, ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid specifically regarding implementation of the CARES Act and provisions that provide broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.

AACOM Outlines OME Priorities in Response to NIH Request for Information


AACOM recently responded to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s and encouraged the NIH to partner with the osteopathic community as it prepares its FY21 – 25 NIH-wide Strategic Plan. The plan will guide the agency’s research efforts and work to advance its mission over the next five years, building upon the previous plan for FY16 – 20 and ensuring efficient and appropriate use of taxpayer funds.


as it works to implement language included in the FY20 appropriations law, which recognizes the importance of enhancing NIH research funding for osteopathic medical schools. AACOM also strongly encouraged the NIH to support research opportunities for and partner with community-based institutions and emphasized the importance of evidence-based research for integrative health approaches, notably osteopathic manipulative treatment or osteopathic manipulative medicine and the role it can play in serving as a critical approach to addressing medical and musculoskeletal conditions. AACOM will remain engaged with the NIH throughout the development of the strategic plan, which is expected to be released at the end of the year.

NHSC 2020 Scholarship Program Now Accepting Applications


Osteopathic medical students may now apply to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program (SP) for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Applications are due April 23, 2020 by 7:30 PM ET. The awards funds to students pursuing primary health care professions training in NHSC-eligible disciplines in exchange for their commitment to serve in high-need, underserved communities. Applicants are encouraged to review the for detailed information and the as a quick reference guide. As an additional resource, individuals may attend one of two NHSC SP online on Tuesday, April 7 and Monday, April 20. AACOM continues to advocate vigorously to support the sustainability of NHSC programs, which recruit and retain physicians in locations where shortages are most severe.

ED Releases Proposed Rules on Distance Education


On April 1, ED governing distance learning for higher education based on the of the 2019 negotiated rulemaking sessions. According to ED, the proposed distance learning and innovation regulations are intended to enhance the capacity by which institutions can deliver education and teach remotely while protecting students and taxpayers from irresponsible actors. AACOM will thoroughly evaluate the proposal, particularly amid changes to educational delivery resulting from COVID-19, and continue to engage with ED as the rulemaking process moves forward.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

SAMHSA COVID-19 Resources and Updates: During these challenging times, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is providing guidance, updates, and other resources to communities impacted by COVID-19. Please find helpful updates to FAQs concerning and for mental health treatment during a public health crisis.

VA RFP for GME Enhancement: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Academic Affiliations issued its for round seven of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 resident physician funding. VA facilities looking to expand current graduate medical education (GME) programs or affiliations and those currently without a GME program are encouraged to apply. Applications are currently being accepted through May 8, 2020. .

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