Biden Issues COVID-19 Response Strategy, Extends Pause on Student Loan Repayment


January 25, 2021

What You Need to Know


On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian American to be sworn in as Vice President. On his first day in office, following a turbulent transition of power, President Biden took executive action to to COVID-19, into the United States, and , among other priorities. Executive measures of interest to the osteopathic medical education (OME) community are described in more detail below, and AACOM looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure policies and programs important to OME are supported at the federal level.

On The Hill

AACOM Summary of Higher Education Provisions in COVID-19 Stimulus and FY21 Omnibus Package


The fiscal year (FY) 2021 , which included a COVID-19 stimulus package, provides funding for institutions of higher education (IHEs), including osteopathic medical schools, to help defray the costs of the pandemic. The law also includes tax credits, broadband initiatives and expansions of the Paycheck Protection Program that may be beneficial to AACOM member institutions. For further information on these provisions, please view the developed in partnership with Hogan, Marren, Babbo & Rose, Ltd.

Biden Releases COVID-19 National Response Strategy


On January 21, President Biden issued the , outlining the federal government’s comprehensive plan to address the pandemic. The National Strategy is organized around seven goals, which include supporting a surge in the healthcare workforce and an aggressive vaccination strategy to allow additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines, including clinical students, which AACOM has advocated for through our initiative; expanding emergency relief to states and local governments and invoking the Defense Production Act to fill supply shortfalls critical to ending the pandemic; and a strategy to safely reopen higher education institutions by calling on Congress to infuse an additional $35 billion in emergency funding for higher education. The White House will establish a COVID-19 Response Office to coordinate the pandemic response across all federal departments and agencies and execute the National Strategy.


Biden has called on Congress to quickly approve his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan, which incorporates the National Strategy’s provisions to bolster the healthcare system, strengthen the economy and address the economic disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. AACOM will engage Congress and the Administration to maximize opportunities for the OME community to play an integral role in this effort.




Osteopathic Medical Students: Apply for Our Virtual Internship by this Friday!


AACOM's Osteopathic Health Policy Internship Program will develop your knowledge of federal healthcare and higher education policy and teach you how to have an impact on public policy formulation. The application cycle ends January 29, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET.

ED to MED: Help Us Advocate for Health Professions Education in the 117th Congress


With the swearing in of President Biden and Vice President Harris, and the start of a new legislative session, we urge our ED to MED community to join us in recommitting to strongly advocating for federal financial aid and loan repayment programs vital to health professions students. It’s crucial that we educate new Members of Congress about the impact that Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Graduate PLUS loans have on our nation’s higher education landscape and healthcare workforce so that we can protect these critical programs that help .



Administration and Federal Agencies

ED Releases COVID Funding to IHEs


Following President Trump’s signing of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSAA) Act in late December 2020, the US Department of Education (ED) began releasing to IHEs more than $21 billion in COVID-19 stimulus funding through the (HEERF II). Public and non-profit schools can use the funding for institutional costs, student financial aid grants and student support activities. For-profit institutions must use funding exclusively for student financial aid grants. For more information regarding the CRRSAA and HEERF II, including expected funding allocations to IHEs and FAQs, please .

Biden Takes Executive Action to Extend Student Loan Relief and Address Other Issues


Just hours after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, President Biden signed an calling on ED to extend the pause on student loan payments and interest through September 30, 2021. Student loan payments and interest were originally suspended by ED in March 2020 as part of a COVID-19 response and further extended through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and subsequent directives, but were set to restart next month. The that borrowers will continue to receive credit towards the PSLF Program during the pause, provided they have a Direct Loan and continue to work full-time for a qualifying employer. According to , 80 percent of graduating osteopathic medical students in the 2019 – 2020 academic year who planned to enter a loan forgiveness program intended to enter the PSLF Program.


In addition to extending the repayment moratorium, President Biden has already on a range of issues. Of interest to the OME community is the US rejoining the World Health Organization, preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, structuring the federal government to execute a unified national COVID-19 response, and issuing a regulatory freeze on certain regulations that may have been finalized by the Trump Administration in its last days, among other items. AACOM will continue to update its membership as the Administration implements these actions and others that impact osteopathic medical schools and students.

Analysis of GME Provisions in Year-End Legislation


The signed into law on December 27 includes several important graduate medical education (GME) measures to help alleviate the nation’s physician workforce shortage. These provisions include creating 1,000 new residency training slots for teaching hospitals, addressing the resident rotator issue and easing rural training track requirements. For further information, Dentons prepared an of these provisions outlining the expected implementation process. In addition to this GME analysis, please  to learn more about federal spending allocations for other programs of interest to OME, as well as key COVID-19 relief measures.

ED Adds Loan Repayment Transparency to College Scorecard


ED recently added to its . The data tracks how borrowers from individual IHEs are progressing in their student loan repayment at various stages. This transparency will give prospective students another tool when making higher education decisions. It is anticipated that year-over-year institutional cost data will be incorporated later this year, giving further cost/benefit analysis to prospective students.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

Traditional radiographs illustrating the variation in frontal sinus (yellow arrows) shape and size among three adults

Des Moines University Faculty Awarded National Institute of Justice Grant to Enhance Forensic Guidelines: They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but the spaces above them can reveal a person’s identification. These holes in the skull can fill the “holes” in a forensic investigation when a dead body is discovered. “The frontal sinuses are the fingerprint of the skull,” says Lauren Butaric, PhD, associate professor of anatomy at Des Moines University. Dr. Butaric and Heather Garvin, PhD, D-ABFA, associate professor of anatomy, have received a two-year $357,871 grant from the National Institute of Justice to better understand how the structures of the frontal sinuses can be applied more precisely in forensic settings. Students will also be involved in the investigations. .

Carl R. Hoegerl, DO, MSc, MSIT, FACP

LUCOM Assistant Dean Completes AACOM’s Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship: Last month, Carl R. Hoegerl, DO, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM)’s assistant dean for clinical education, chair of the department of internal medicine and associate professor of neurology, graduated from AACOM’s (OHPF). Dr. Hoegerl joins more than 260 osteopathic physicians and other healthcare professionals that have completed the national program. “The fellowship has given me an opportunity to learn new skills and gain new knowledge that I can bring to Liberty, to LUCOM student-doctors, and to the osteopathic profession,” says Dr. Hoegerl. Learn more about and .

HRSA Seeks Pediatric Primary Care Innovations to Improve Child Health:

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has for innovative approaches to increase pediatric well-child and immunization visits, which have declined during the pandemic. In Phase 1, up to 50 applicants will receive $10,000 to deploy the proposed innovation in Phase 2. Interested pediatric and primary care physicians are encouraged to apply by March 15, 2021 for this HRSA challenge. A recording of an earlier webinar will be available soon, with information on the .

NIH Launches Website on Vaccines, Treatment and Testing: Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health launched a of COVID-related information on vaccines, treatments and testing, giving interested parties up-to-date information on the agency’s role in pandemic research. Funding opportunities and a list of funded projects by state and congressional district is available. The site provides additional information on key programs and partnerships like the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics that is on the forefront of developing diagnostic COVID-19 tests.


Visit AACOM's for federal grants of interest to osteopathic medical education.

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