AACOM Advocates for Mental Health and COVID-19 Research

Use Your Voice to #ElevateOME on October 7!



August 24, 2020

What You Need to Know


AACOM Virtual Day of Action


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues that have plagued our health professionals and the larger healthcare system. From the mental health challenges that physicians have long suffered, to the dire shortage of physicians, particularly in the many rural and medically underserved areas across our country, we are seeing now the importance of advocacy, of using our collective voice to champion the federal policies and programs that strengthen our ability to educate and train the next generation of osteopathic physicians. AACOM continues to strongly advocate on behalf of our community, but Congress must also hear from you. Be a strong voice for osteopathic medical education (OME) on October 7—join us for the .

On The Hill

AACOM Endorses Bill to Promote Mental and Behavioral Health for Healthcare Professionals


Last month, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) introduced the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 4349), which seeks to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and other mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. The bill, which , would authorize Health Resources and Services Administration training grants for health professions students, residents, and professionals in evidence-informed strategies to mitigate suicide, burnout, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions; require a comprehensive study on mental and behavioral health and burnout, including measuring COVID-19’s impact on healthcare professionals’ mental health; and establish a national education and awareness campaign through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage healthcare professionals to seek treatment.


“Osteopathic medicine emphasizes a whole-person approach to care, with an understanding we must consider body, mind and spirit when caring for each patient,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, FACOI, FAODME. “If we continue to allow our healthcare professionals, in particular those on the front lines, to suffer in silence, we will not only be failing them, but we will also be harming the health of their patients and our larger healthcare system. As osteopathic medical educators and leaders helping to train the country’s future physicians, we must do more to combat the mental health issues plaguing our healthcare workers, especially during such a stressful and critical period.” in support of the bill.


AACOM also the Coronavirus Health Care Worker Wellness Act (H.R. 7255), which would provide mental health resources for frontline healthcare workers and authorize research to investigate the immediate mental health impacts caused by COVID-19, as well as the underlying causes contributing to burnout and other mental health issues experienced by health professionals.

Senate Republicans Introduce Scaled-Back COVID-19 Relief Bill


Last week, Senate Republicans released a trimmed-down version of a COVID-19 aid package, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act. The bill eliminates numerous measures introduced in last , leaving out a new round of stimulus checks and roughly half of a $306 billion emergency appropriations package. The new, “skinny” bill would include $105 billion for K-12 schools and colleges and universities; liability protections for schools, businesses, and healthcare professionals; additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program; $16 billion in new funds for state testing, contact tracing, and surveillance; $26 billion for vaccine research and distribution; and $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.


The new bill was introduced in response to House Democrats’ $25 billion legislative proposal for the Postal Service, and comes after the White House and Democratic leaders were on the next comprehensive COVID-19 stimulus package, prompting the White House to issue a series of executive actions with reduced pandemic relief.

AACOM Joins Letter in Support of AHRQ Funding for COVID-19 Research


As a member of the Friends of AHRQ coalition, AACOM over 90 national organizations in a letter to House leadership in support of the Addressing COVID-19 Health Disparities Act (H.R. 8067), which was introduced by U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI). This bill would direct the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to conduct or support research on the most critical health system issues related to COVID-19, including the expansion and effectiveness of telehealth, contributing factors and mitigation strategies for addressing racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 infection rates, and widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for vulnerable groups. AHRQ produces evidence to make healthcare safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and works with its partners to ensure evidence is communicated and understood.




AACOM Virtual Day of Action

#ElevateOME! Learn More about the AACOM Virtual Day of Action


COVID-19 has put an unprecedented strain on our healthcare and medical education systems, impacting patients, hospitals, healthcare workers, medical students, schools, and our communities. Whether you are a medical student learning to care for others, an osteopathic medical educator training the next generation of DOs, or an osteopathic physician working on the frontlines to care for COVID patients, you have an important story to tell. Congress wants—and needs—to hear from you. Join us for the AACOM Virtual Day of Action and urge Congress to support the federal health and higher education policies and programs critical to our osteopathic medical schools, students, and physicians on October 7.

AACOM Announces 2021 Osteopathic Health Policy Interns


AACOM is excited to announce the selection of three exceptional osteopathic medical students to participate in our 2021 Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) Program:

  • Jennifer S. Lee, OMS-IV, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Middletown, New York
  • Shikha Patel, OMS-IV, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Nikita Deval, OMS-IV, Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine

As part of AACOM’s , the enables osteopathic medical students to spend eight consecutive weeks working with AACOM’s Office of Government Relations. Selected student interns develop an understanding and operational knowledge of how federal healthcare and higher education policy is developed and learn how to effectively influence public policy.


AACOM Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager Presents at Digital Media and Advocacy Summit


On August 18, Christine DeCarlo, AACOM Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager, presented at the Public Affairs Council , which convened more than 200 digital advocacy professionals and online communicators for a day of learning, networking, and brainstorming. Christine’s presentation addressed best practices, tools, and guidelines for planning a virtual advocacy day, and strategies and tactics for using tele-town halls to engage legislators and supporters.



Administration and Federal Agencies

Title IX Final Rule Takes Effect


The U.S. Department of Education (ED)’s , released on May 6 and effective August 14, governs what constitutes sexual harassment and assault under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and how schools must respond to reported incidents within their educational programs and activities. While some legal challenges to the regulations are still pending, a federal judge on August 12 denied a complaint brought by 18 attorneys general, clearing the way for the Title IX regulations to take effect and carry the full weight of law. AACOM facilitated a member-exclusive webinar to outline the new regulations and address what colleges of osteopathic medicine must do to comply with the new Title IX requirements. Please view the webinar for more information.

ED Provides More Details on Student Loan Relief Implementation


On August 21, that the pause on monthly federal student loan payments through the end of the year, set forth in the August 8 , would take effect automatically, with no opt-in required. Non-payments of federal student loans by borrowers working full-time for qualifying employers during this pause will also count toward satisfying Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income driven repayment forgiveness requirements. Further, interest rates on all federal student loans will be set to 0% through the end of the year. AACOM will continue to engage the Administration and ED on OME issues as the pandemic continues.

ED Announces New Grants to Improve Postsecondary Education and Opportunity During COVID-19


ED has a new grant program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to enable institutions of higher education to resume operations, serve the needs of students, reduce disease transmission, and implement safe and effective instructional delivery models. Disbursed through the Program, priority for these grants will be given to colleges and universities with the greatest unmet needs related to COVID-19. Eligible entities are encouraged to apply with a letter of intent due on September 10 and an application by October 20.

HHS Announces $101 Million in Funding to Combat the Opioid Crisis


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that $101 million in nationwide funding will be divided among the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) implementation programs and the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) to continue to address the opioid epidemic. Eighty-nine RCORP grant recipients will use the funding to expand substance use disorder and opioid use disorder service delivery in rural communities and 28 BHW grant recipients will use the funding to expand access to behavioral health services, especially in rural areas. .

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

COCA Call on Influenza Vaccination Guidance during COVID-19: The CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity hosted a webinar on August 20 titled, “2020 – 2021 Influenza Vaccination Recommendations and Clinical Guidance during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” During the call, presenters discussed the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice, flu vaccination planning, general vaccination guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and guidance for large vaccination clinics held in satellite, temporary, or off-site locations. .

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