AACOM Washington Insider - December 16, 2019

AACOM Endorses Opioid Workforce Act, Urges Congress to Fund Health Workforce Training Programs, and Welcomes Health Policy Fellows to Washington, DC


December 16, 2019

What You Need to Know

As Congress works to wrap up a number of priorities before adjourning for winter recess, AACOM welcomed the 2019 – 2020 class of the (OHPF) Program to Washington, DC for a seminar on the federal government’s role in health and higher education policy. Fellows heard from federal officials, public policy professionals, and health educators about how federal agencies and stakeholders contribute to health and higher education policy outcomes. The OHPF is part of AACOM’s , which cultivates strong leaders to meet key areas of need in the osteopathic medical profession. AACOM’s Office of Government Relations is currently accepting applications for its Program, also a part of AACOM’s Leadership Institute, through January 24. The program is open to osteopathic medical students passionate about federal health care and higher education policy. AACOM values the opportunity to cultivate knowledge and leadership among our community and encourages you to take advantage of our policy leadership programs.


Our Washington Insider will resume in the new year. Wishing you a warm and happy holiday season!


AACOM Office of Government Relations

On The Hill

AACOM Joins Letter in Support of Title VII and VIII Funding; Senate HELP Committee Advances Title VII Legislation


The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Thursday advanced the Title VII Health Care Workforce Act of 2019 (S. 2997), a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize funding for Title VII health professions workforce development programs for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The legislation, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Martha McSally (R-AZ), would fund scholarships, loan repayment programs, and grants essential in helping vulnerable patients by prioritizing the supply, distribution, and diversity of the nation’s health care workforce. As a member of the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC), AACOM nearly 60 national organizations in a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership requesting $690 million in FY20 funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII and Title VIII programs. HPNEC is an alliance of nearly 70 organizations representing a variety of schools, programs, health professionals, and students dedicated to ensuring the health care workforce is trained to meet the evolving health needs of the country.

AACOM Joins Letter of Support for Opioid Workforce Act of 2019


AACOM 80 national organizations as a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) Graduate Medical Education (GME) Advocacy Coalition in a letter to U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in support of the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (S. 2892), an bill that aims to combat the nation’s opioid crisis by addressing the growing need for physicians qualified to treat patient opioid dependence. S. 2892 is a companion bill to H.R. 2439, which AACOM also , that would create 1,000 new medical residency positions in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management. AACOM previously endorsed this legislation in the 115th Congress.

FY20 Appropriations Update


Last week, Congress and the White House reached an agreement “in principle” on full-year FY20 spending bills, which resolves issues between the House and Senate appropriations measures and allows the House to begin voting on spending packages as early as tomorrow. The deal would increase defense funding by $22 billion and non-defense funding by $27 billion. All 12 appropriations bills will likely be combined into two big packages, or “minibuses.” Without a deal, the federal government will need another continuing resolution to extend current funding past the December 20 deadline and prevent a government shutdown. Separately, short-term mandatory funding for several important health care programs, including the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, will expire on December 20 without another extension. Funding was previously set to expire on October 1 before being extended until and then .

Senate Confirms FDA Commissioner


Last week, the Senate confirmed Stephen Hahn, MD, to serve as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Hahn, a radiation oncologist who specializes in treating lung cancer and sarcoma, is currently the Chief Medical Executive of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and previously served as the Center’s Chief Operating Officer. He is preceded by Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down in April and was replaced on an acting basis by National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, MD, followed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD.

Congress Passes Student Aid Simplification Legislation


Last week, Congress passed the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, bipartisan legislation that restores expired funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions and simplifies the federal financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment processes. Of note, the FUTURE Act reduces the number of questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and allows the Internal Revenue Service to share student taxpayer information with the U.S. Department of Education (ED). FAFSA® simplification has been a priority of Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who will be retiring in 2020. President Trump is expected to sign the FUTURE Act into law.

House Invests in Rural GME as Part of Drug Pricing Bill


The House of Representatives last week passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), a comprehensive drug pricing bill that included an amendment by U.S. Representative Tom O’Halleran (D-IL) to establish a grant program at HHS for hospitals in rural and medically underserved areas to establish new GME programs or partnerships with hospitals with existing GME programs. The bipartisan amendment was adopted by a vote of 351-73.




From left: Bernadette Riley, DO; Lisa R. Chun, DO, MME; Amelia L. Bueche, DO; Janice K. Knebl, DO, MBA; David E. Tate; Heather Phipps, DO, MBA; Jessica Edwards, DO, MS; Jennifer L. Poast, DO, MA; John Paulson, DO, PhD; Carl Hoegerl, DO

AACOM Health Policy Fellows Convene in Washington, DC


AACOM’s Office of Government Relations hosted its 2019 OHPF Seminar on December 11 – 14 to provide fellows with a comprehensive overview of the federal government’s role in health and higher education policies. Over the course of the seminar, officials from ED, HHS, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office presented to the fellows. Judith Mun, AACOM Director of Government Relations, and Julie Crockett, AACOM Senior Federal Regulatory Affairs Manager, provided fellows with welcome remarks and an update on AACOM’s government relations efforts to open the seminar, followed by a presentation by Mark Speicher, PhD, MHA, AACOM Senior Vice President for Medical Education and Research, on AACOM’s medical education and research initiatives.


Offered through AACOM’s , the OHPF is a year-long training program designed to give osteopathic physicians and individuals with an established connection to the osteopathic profession the skills they need to analyze, formulate, and implement health policy on the local, state, and national levels with the purpose of increasing access to affordable, quality health care. .

There Is no Place like Nome: How Federal Student Aid Helps a DO Practice Rural Medicine


Timothy Lemaire, DO, is an osteopathic family medicine physician practicing in Nome, Alaska, a remote town accessible only by air. Without the help of federal student aid, Dr. Lemaire’s desire to give back to rural communities as a physician would not have been possible. Learn why he urges the health professions community to join him in taking one step toward advocacy in his .

AACOM Takes Part in AAMC’s Opioid GME Day of Action


On December 5, AACOM’s Office of Government Relations participated in the AAMC's 2019 GME Day of Action as part of the GME Advocacy Coalition, which is composed of over 70 individual hospital, physician, and health care advocacy associations and societies. The event raised awareness of the importance of expanding GME training to treat patients with pain and substance use disorders. Over one million individuals, including policymakers, were reached through this day of advocacy. As noted above, AACOM has endorsed the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, which would provide Medicare support for an additional 1,000 GME positions over five years in hospitals that have, or are in the process of establishing, accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.

ED to MED’s Holiday Gift Guide


This holiday season, ED to MED is sharing a list of the best gifts to get the advocate in your life. Find something for every passionate advocate on your holiday shopping list this year. .



Administration and Federal Agencies

Secretary DeVos Proposes Transforming FSA into Independent Agency


On December 3, ED Secretary Betsy DeVos changes to Federal Student Aid (FSA) customer and digital engagement services, and proposed changes to the structure and governance of FSA during a speech in Reno, Nevada at the annual . The Secretary unveiled Aidan, a chatbox equipped to answer routine questions borrowers may have about their loans, and mobile and tablet capabilities for completing the FAFSA® form. The Secretary also briefly discussed recent to the College Scorecard, an online tool created for students to compare the cost and value of higher education institutions in the United States. Addressing FSA’s current organizational structure, the Secretary advocated for separating FSA into an independent, standalone agency outside of ED. It is important to note that such a change would require congressional approval. The FSA currently holds more than approximately $1.5 trillion in outstanding loans to 42 million borrowers.

Reminder: FY20 PCTE-RTPC Program Applications due January 24


HRSA is accepting applications for the FY20 Primary Care Training and Enhancement: Residency Training in Primary Care (PCTE-RTPC) Program through January 24. The seeks to enhance accredited residency training programs in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or combined internal medicine and pediatrics in rural and/or underserved areas. As a reminder, eligible entities include accredited schools of osteopathic or allopathic medicine, public or nonprofit private hospitals, or a public or private non-profit entity capable of carrying out a residency training program in the areas listed above, which are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Interested applicants may access about the program and view the .

Apply Now for HRSA Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program


HRSA will award approximately $20 million through the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program to increase access in underserved communities to board certified addiction professionals who integrate primary care with mental health and substance use disorder prevention and treatment. Eligible applicants include U.S.-based sponsoring institutions of accredited addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry fellowship programs. A consortium consisting of at least one teaching health center and one sponsoring institution of an addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry fellowship program is also eligible to apply. Letters of intent are requested by Monday, January 6, and applications are due on Wednesday, February 25 at 11:59 PM ET. .

ED Implements New Methodology for Borrower Defense to Repayment Claims


On December 10, ED a new methodology for assessing borrower defense to repayment claims. Rather than providing full relief to all borrowers that ED deems defrauded, the new methodology will provide tiered relief to borrower defense applicants, based upon a comparison of the program-level estimated earnings of defrauded borrowers with the publicly available earnings data of graduates from similar programs. ED was previously blocked from instituting tiered relief methodology for its use of individual income data, which a federal court has ruled is in violation of federal privacy law. The Department reports that hundreds of claims adjudicated under the new methodology will be released this week, along with about 18,000 denials the agency is now authorized to issue. Secretary DeVos before the House Education and Labor Committee last week in a hearing that examined borrower defense implementation by ED.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

New Program at NYITCOM-Arkansas to Improve Local Health Outcomes at Community Scale: The New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine-Arkansas (NYITCOM-Arkansas) recently launched the Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI), which will work with rural health initiatives, policy labs, and other stakeholders to leverage resources in education, policy, and research to address issues related to population health in the Delta region, including nutrition, education, and health care systems. The DPHI will also house a , in partnership with U.S. Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR), aimed at applying a health lens to policy issues brought to the congressman to improve population health within the Delta. “Health outcomes in Arkansas and the Delta are among the worst in the country,” said Shane Speights, DO, Dean of NYITCOM-Arkansas. “There are numerous factors well beyond the health care system that impact the overall health of our communities, and I’m excited about how the Delta Population Health Institute will bring people together to address those issues and serve as an impetus for change.” Brookshield Laurent, DO, Chair of Clinical Medicine at NYITCOM-Arkansas and Executive Director of the DPHI, said, “We’ve created the DPHI to serve and collaborate with Delta communities, learners, leaders, policymakers, government agencies, and stakeholders to lead change that results in healthier communities as we address these issues that are so prevalent throughout our region." .

From left: PCOM Board Member A. Scott McNeal, DO, president and CEO of Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc.; U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA); and Alexis Cates, DO, medical toxicology fellow at Albert Einstein Medical Center

Rep. Dwight Evans Participates in Primary Care Panel Discussion Hosted by PCOM Students: Students from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine recently welcomed Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA) to a panel discussion on the need for more personnel and funding in the primary care fields. Increased access to primary care has positive health benefits, including decreased outpatient and emergency room visits and reduced hospital admissions. A member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, Congressman Evans noted, “I appreciated the chance to talk with the medical students and to hear their frontline perspectives on health care. I always say that the most important title isn’t congressman—it’s citizen.” .

NSU-KPCOM Student Awarded National Health Service Corps Scholarship: Hamzah Mughal, a class of 2023 Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine student, was accepted into the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program. NHSC scholars receive three benefits in exchange for providing primary care service in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas: full coverage of the scholar’s tuition for as many years designated in the contract; a monthly stipend to aid with living expenses; and reimbursement of the student’s other reasonable costs, such as required materials and lab fees. Student physicians who are awarded this scholarship must pursue a residency program in any of the primary care fields designated by the NHSC. .

PCORI Launches Engagement Tool to Share Successful Research Practices: The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has introduced a new Engagement Tool and Resource Repository aimed at spreading successful research practices and methodologies. This centralized resource is intended to boost collaborative efforts between researchers and their partners. Already, the peer-to-peer platform houses more than 150 resources and tools from PCORI-funded projects that meet specific usefulness and adaptability criteria. .

Governor Lee along with LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk and his wife Cindi DeBusk, DCOM at LMU-Knoxville Dean David Plundo, LMU trustees Dr. Richard Gillespie, Sam Mars, Jay Shoffner and Sherrie Claiborne and DCOM at LMU-Knoxville Class of 2023 President Phil Brier cut the ribbon on the over 110,000 square-foot facility.

Governor Bill Lee Cuts Ribbon on DCOM at LMU-Knoxville: On December 6, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee joined the celebration to officially open Lincoln Memorial University (LMU)’s second location of the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (DCOM) in West Knoxville. DCOM at LMU-Knoxville welcomed its first class of 125 students in July 2019 to the newly renovated, state-of-the-art facilities. Governor Lee said, “I have a strong belief that what happens in rural Tennessee is very important to every Tennessean. That’s why the first executive order of my administration was requiring all state government to give a strategic plan that would improve the lives of those in rural Tennessee. One of the ways we do that is by providing greater access to quality health care to everyone who lives in those communities. LMU and this program in particular is a part of how we are going to do that."

PCORI Stakeholder Workshop on Suicide Prevention: PCORI will host a workshop on suicide prevention on Wednesday, December 18 from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM ET. Clinicians, researchers, policymakers, survivors, and patients will provide input on PCORI investments regarding suicide prevention. The public is invited to participate via webinar. .

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