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Join AACOM in Advocating for GME, Addiction Medicine and Mental Health

 
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June 1, 2021

What You Need to Know

 

Congress is prioritizing physician shortage issues as AACOM celebrates the graduation of the new class of DOs. Kevin O’Connor, DO, physician to President Biden, on realizing their dream of becoming a doctor. On May 20, osteopathic medical education (OME) leader University of New England President Dr. James D. Herbert testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, which to examine the nation’s physician shortage. During the hearing, “A Dire Shortage and Getting Worse: Solving the Crisis in the Health Care Workforce,” Dr. Herbert five strategies to address the workforce crisis. Subcommittee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also his intent to introduce a bill to increase funding for Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME), the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program and National Health Service Corps. AACOM continues to actively engage Congress on physician workforce legislation and for federal policies that support OME.

On The Hill

Biden Administration Proposes Major Boosts to Health, Education in FY22 Budget Request

 

On May 28, President Biden released his $6 trillion , which combines his jobs, infrastructure and discretionary spending plans, calling on Congress to provide $769 billion in non-defense discretionary funding, a 16 percent increase over current funding levels. Importantly, the proposal prioritizes improving the nation’s readiness for future public health crises, as well as major investments in programs to combat the opioid epidemic. The budget requests $102.8 billion for the US Department of Education (ED), a $29.8 billion or 41 percent increase over the 2021 enacted level, and $133.7 billion for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a $25 billion or 23.4 percent increase from the 2021 enacted level. Lawmakers will use Biden’s proposed budget as a blueprint to help determine funding allocations for federal agencies in FY22. AACOM’s complete analysis of the President’s Budget and provisions of interest to OME is forthcoming.

AACOM Submits Testimony on FY22 Funding Priorities to Labor-HHS-Ed

 

AACOM submitted last month to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee outlining its FY22 funding priorities for the OME community. In the letter, AACOM advocates for increased funding of GME and physician workforce programs, as well as greater OME representation and research.

AACOM Endorses GME Expansion Bill to Address Substance Use Disorder Crisis

 

AACOM strongly the bipartisan Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act of 2021 (H.R. 3441), which would help combat the addiction crisis and address the nation’s healthcare workforce shortage by increasing the number of physicians treating patients with substance use disorders. Reintroduced by US Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL), David McKinley (R-WV) and Annie Kuster (D-NH), H.R. 3441 would add 1,000 Medicare-funded residency positions over five years at hospitals that have, or are in the process of establishing, approved residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry or pain medicine. AACOM the companion bill, the Opioid Workforce Act of 2021 (S. 1438), and this legislation in the 116th Congress.

AACOM, GME Advocacy Coalition Urge GME Inclusion in Infrastructure Package

 

AACOM nearly 60 national organizations in a GME Advocacy Coalition letter urging the White House and Congress to include Medicare-supported GME in the upcoming infrastructure package. Notably, the letter advocates for the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 (S. 834/H.R. 2256), an , which would address the nation’s physician shortage by adding 14,000 Medicare-funded GME positions over seven years and prioritizing hospitals in rural and medically underserved areas.

AACOM Advocates for Medical Research Funding in Infrastructure Legislation

 

As part of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, AACOM over 200 national organizations in a letter to congressional leadership recommending investments in medical research infrastructure as Congress negotiates legislation to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure and bolster economic recovery. This funding would help support medical research by enabling the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to mitigate pandemic-related disruptions and prepare the research community to respond to the current outbreak and future health crises.

Telehealth: State of Play in the 117th Congress

 

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government instituted temporary regulatory changes to facilitate broader utilization of telehealth services and increase access to patient care. The increase of telehealth during COVID-19 is providing substantial, new data for lawmakers to analyze and momentum in Congress for more permanent policy solutions. to learn more about the telehealth state of play and the potential scope of changes under consideration. AACOM is considering opportunities for engagement and welcomes feedback from the OME community on telehealth policies impacting the profession at .

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Administration and Federal Agencies

ED Announces Public Hearings and Intent to Overhaul Higher Ed Regulatory Agenda

 

ED will hold hearings on June 21, 23 and 24 to collect public feedback on more than a dozen regulatory issues impacting higher education, including public service loan forgiveness, gainful employment and borrower defense to repayment. The public hearings mark the beginning of the lengthy federal regulatory process, with rulemaking committees expected to convene later this summer. provides details about the hearings, topics of discussion, registration and the negotiated rulemaking process. Please notify AACOM GR at if you or your institution plan to provide public comment. AACOM is assessing the regulatory topics and will engage ED and our membership throughout this process to ensure policies support OME.

White House Details Investment of Public Health Workforce Funding

 

The White House recently announced its plans to invest $7.4 billion included in the American Rescue Plan to train and hire public health workers in response to COVID-19. Divided into two parts, $4.4 billion will build public health staffing for the COVID-19 response, and $3 billion will prepare the public health workforce for future pandemics. .

ED Opens Registration for Title IX Public Hearings

 

Following the of virtual public hearings from June 7-11 to gather information on improving the enforcement of Title IX, the ED Office of Civil Rights released further hearing details. on the agenda, registration and comments submission. Please notify AACOM GR at if you or your institution plan to provide public comment.

Interest Rates to Increase for New Federal Student Loans

 

Beginning July 1, the permanent interest rates on new federal student loans will go up by nearly a full percentage point after dropping to record lows during the pandemic. The rates are reset each year and tied to the yield on 10-year Treasury notes after an auction each May. The rate on new undergraduate loans will go up to 3.73 percent (from the current 2.75 percent), and the rate on new graduate loans will increase to 5.28 percent (from 4.3 percent). The rate on federal PLUS loans will be 6.28 percent (up from 5.3 percent). The rates are fixed for the lifetime of the loan. Importantly, the increase only affects new federal loans, not existing debt.

Brooks-LaSure Confirmed to Lead CMS

 

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure becomes the first Black administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a $1 trillion agency responsible for shaping healthcare access programs and Medicare-funded GME. The Senate voted 55-44, largely split along party lines, to confirm Brooks-LaSure. A health policy expert, Brooks-LaSure was a staffer at HHS during the Obama Administration and on the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Advocate!

Take Action to Support Healthcare Professionals’ Mental Health

 

On May 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which aims to reduce and prevent mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. For Mental Health Awareness Month this past May, AACOM’s recent Jennifer Lee, fourth-year student at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - New York, shared her mental health research and discussed the to improve mental health among healthcare professionals and students. .

Engagement and Resources

WCUCOM Dean Meets with Senator Hyde-Smith about Need for Greater NIH DO Funding: Italo Subbarao, DO, MBA, dean of the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, met with US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) on May 18, as well as Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) the following week, to discuss the need for greater NIH funding to osteopathic programs for rural primary care and ways to improve healthcare for all Mississippians. Dr. Subbarao serves as a great example of the many deans and other OME leaders who have advocated for OME policy priorities and played an important role in advancing our public policy agenda. Please contact AACOM GR at if you are interested in meeting with your Members of Congress in support of OME policy priorities.

NYITCOM Awarded NIH Grant for Depression Research: In a new study funded by the NIH, Weikang Cai, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, will examine how chronic stress impacts brain chemistry and contributes to clinical depression. The research project, which is estimated to receive $1.6 million in NIH funds over five years, could help identify breakthrough treatments for clinical depression, which affects more than 260 million people worldwide. .

Applications Open for 2021 Faculty Loan Repayment Program: Administered by the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Bureau of Health Workforce, the Faculty Loan Repayment Program works to recruit and retain faculty members from disadvantaged backgrounds with an eligible health professions degree or certificate. The program provides up to $40,000 to help repay the outstanding principal and interest of qualifying educational loans. Interested applicants may participate in a technical assistance call on June 10 from 3:00 PM-4:30 PM EDT, and applications are due on July 1, 2021. .

Area Health Education Center Supplemental Funding Available: HRSA announced a June 15 deadline for grant applications for the Area Health Education Center Simulation Education Training Program Competitive Supplement. HRSA anticipates awarding approximately $2 million total to eight grantees to establish or enhance simulation labs that will provide realistic, clinical environments and scenarios designed to educate and train healthcare professionals serving rural, medically underserved communities. .

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

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