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AACOM Washington Insider - January 13, 2020

FY20 Spending Bills Increase or Preserve Funding for Programs Vital to OME, AACOM Endorses Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act

 
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January 13, 2020

What You Need to Know

2020 has begun, and Congress has returned to the nation’s capital. Before adjourning for the holidays, Congress passed, and the President signed, a $1.4 trillion spending deal for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The deal provided $484.5 billion to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, increasing or preserving funding for many programs critical to osteopathic medical education (OME). Several important health care programs, including the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, were extended through May 22, 2020. The bills also direct the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to simplify and improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs and encourage the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow new residency programs in areas facing physician shortages more time before instituting full-time resident equivalent caps. AACOM looks forward to continuing to work with Congress in the new year to advance policies and programs vital to OME.

 

AACOM Office of Government Relations

On The Hill

FY20 Spending Bills Signed into Law

 

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law a comprehensive, two-part, $1.4 trillion spending deal for FY20, H.R. 1865, the Fiscal 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, and H.R. 1158, the Fiscal 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act. These "minibuses" include an increase in funding attributed to the two-year budget agreement into law in August 2019, providing $484.5 billion to NDD programs. Without passage of these packages, the federal government would have needed another continuing resolution to extend current funding past the December 20, 2019 deadline to prevent a government shutdown.

 

In particular, the measures include $184.9 billion for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which is an increase of $4.9 billion above the FY19 level and $43 billion over the President's FY20 budget request. In addition, many programs critical to OME received increased funding or were preserved, including a $193 million increase for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) over FY19 levels, a $2.6 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over FY19 levels, and $42.8 million in increased funding for HRSA's Title VII and Title VIII health professions workforce training programs. For a detailed breakdown of funding levels and measures of importance to OME within the spending bills, .

President Signs Student Aid Simplification Legislation

 

On December 19, 2019, President Trump signed into law the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, H.R. 5363, 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 ED. U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a long time champion of FAFSA® simplification who will be retiring this year, and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), led negotiation efforts in the Senate.

AACOM Endorses the Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act

 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced the Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act of 2019, which would require that all foreign medical schools be held to the same minimum requirements in order to receive ED Title IV federal financial aid. Under current law, certain medical schools located in the Caribbean are exempt from meeting requirements that other foreign medical schools must meet to receive federal funding. U.S. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) the companion bill, H.R. 103, of which U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA) is now the House Democratic lead. AACOM strongly this legislation, as it did in the last Congress.

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Advocacy

Apply for AACOM’s Osteopathic Health Policy Internship by January 24

 

Develop knowledge of federal health care and higher education policy and learn how to make a foundational impact on public policy formulation through AACOM’s Osteopathic Health Policy Internship (OHPI) Program. Selected individuals will spend eight weeks in AACOM’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, DC, attending important meetings at federal departments and agencies, covering key hearings on Capitol Hill, and gaining valuable networking, advocacy, and policy experience. Applications are due by Friday, January 24. .

 

 

“This internship has shown me that advocacy in the public policy world can have a tremendous impact on patient lives, both directly and indirectly!”

 

Mianna Armstrong, DO, MS, March 2019 Intern

ED to MED Discusses Power of Student Advocacy with AACOM OHPI

 

Wessley Square, MS, fourth-year student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and AACOM’s current OHPI, is involved in numerous health care and higher education advocacy organizations and aspires to continue advocating throughout his career. Learn what initially attracted Wessley to advocacy and medicine and how students today can help shape the policies of tomorrow by watching his .

Medical Student Finds Her Advocacy Voice

 

Annie Phung, third-year student at PCOM Georgia, never set out to become an advocate. A trip to Washington, DC sparked her interest in federal health care and higher education policies, where she learned firsthand the importance of getting involved. Since then, she has become an , championing the importance of the and , and serves as the National Legislative Affairs Representative for AACOM’s . Now, Annie hopes to inspire fellow medical students to join her in a lifetime of advocacy. .

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Administration and Federal Agencies

HRSA Announces Funding Opportunity for Disadvantaged Students

 

HRSA recently the opportunity to apply for funding under the FY20 Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Program. The SDS Program strives to promote diversity in the health professions by providing awards to accredited schools of osteopathic medicine, among others, that then provide scholarships of up to $40,000 to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have a demonstrated financial need, including students of racial and ethnic minority groups. The SDS Program also connects students with opportunities to serve in primary care professions in medically underserved communities. Participating schools are responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, making reasonable determinations of need, and providing scholarships. Applications are due March 3, 2020.

ED Launches New FSA Website

 

In December, ED a new website that provides access to multiple student aid resources through a centralized location. The new website includes information about student aid types, repayment plans, student loan consolidation, and loan counseling, and allows users to complete the FAFSA® form. The new changes also streamline the website with the myStudentAid mobile app, which allows users to switch between completing tasks on the app and on the web. Additionally, Federal Student Aid (FSA) launched a new virtual assistant, Aidan, to ten percent of federal student aid borrowers. Aidan can answer upwards of 800 questions about federal student aid and continues to learn based on feedback provided by those participating in the pilot program. These improvements are all part of the Department’s Next Gen FSA transformation with the goal of modernizing and improving customer experience with the federal student aid process.

Brad Smith Named New Director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS recently Brad Smith as the new Director of the at CMS and Senior Advisor to HHS Secretary Alex Azar for Value-Based Transformation. According to Secretary Azar, “Brad has impressive experience with innovative care delivery and paying for value, and he will help expand Administrator Verma’s and CMS’s efforts to ensure Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are getting better care, and better health, at a lower cost.” Brad Smith previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Anthem’s Diversified Business Group, as well as the CEO and co-founder of Aspire Health.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

Final Reminder: FY20 PCTE-RPTC Program Application Deadline: HRSA is accepting applications for the FY20 Primary Care Training and Enhancement Residency Training in Primary Care Program through January 24. Interested applicants may access before applying. .

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program Award Preference: Health professionals applying for the following National Health Service Corps loan repayment programs can receive award preference by completing free Medication-Assisted Treatment training and obtaining the DATA 2000 waiver. Eligible applicants can receive up to $75,000 for the or $100,000 for the . Both repayment programs apply to health professionals seeking to combat the opioid epidemic. .

NIH's Deputy Director for Extramural Research Discusses NIH Funding Plans: The Deputy Director for Extramural Research at the NIH, Michael Lauer, MD, recently discussed in a how NIH makes funding decisions and presented available data on NIH funding plans. When considering funding decisions, NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) have keyed into the importance of peer review scores and expansive research portfolios that address a wide scope of diseases, conditions, or other research areas. The blog post also discusses FY18 data on R01-equivalent applications (including R37-MERIT applications), R56-Bridge awards, and individual IC-level data, which are now available in the .

Matched for Life: TCOM Couple Earns HPSP Scholarships: Kelly and Blake Harrell are not your average newly married couple. This dynamic duo, who met during medical school at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, have now both secured residency spots at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. Both are recipients of military scholarships from the Health Professions Scholarship Program (), which supports new graduates’ training at a military center, followed by practice at a domestic or international military base. Blake secured a four-year HPSP, while Kelly received one of only four of the nation’s two-year Air Force HPSP scholarships, giving them a greater chance of staying together during residency. While Blake is already training in San Antonio, Kelly will join him there next year. Learn more about their .

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American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Office of Government Relations
500 New Jersey Avenue NW, Suite 380, Washington, DC 20001

Contact the editors: aacomgr@aacom.org

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