The House of Representatives is expected to pass its first fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations package, which includes funding for health programs of priority to the osteopathic medical education (OME) community, later this week. On June 4, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the importance of investing in our nation’s health programs, including the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program. The THCGME Program has a proven track record of expanding access to primary care in rural and underserved communities. Without congressional action, this program will expire on October 1. Congress introduced the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2019 (H.R. 2815/S. 1191), AACOM-endorsed, bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and expand the program. It is crucial for Congress to hear from the OME community about the importance of THCGME—we urge you to email your legislators today in support of this vital program.
Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations
House Begins Debate on Appropriations Bills
Last week, the House began debate on H.R. 2740, the first spending measure of the FY20 appropriations season. The four-bill package, or “minibus,” which contains nearly $1 trillion in spending, provides increased funding for both the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED). The House will likely pass the final measure this week, even though the Administration has issued a veto threat, citing spending levels for non-defense discretionary programs that the White House has deemed too high.
House leaders are aiming to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills by the end of the month. However, lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern about marking up spending bills without an agreement on overall government spending caps. Senate leaders have so far waited to introduce their appropriations bills until a deal on overall spending levels is made, but if Congress and the White House cannot come to agreement quickly, the Senate Appropriations Committee may begin moving forward as soon as next month. AACOM will continue to advocate for programs of importance to OME throughout the FY20 appropriations process.
House E&C Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Public Health Programs
On June 4, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing, “Investing in America’s Health Care,” which focused on a variety of public health programs including THCGME, the National Health Service Corps, and community health centers (CHCs). C. Dean Germano, CEO of the Shasta Community Health Center, testified in support of these programs and emphasized the importance of stable, long-term funding. Among the legislation considered during the hearing was theTraining the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2019 (H.R. 2815), which AACOM has strongly endorsed.
The subcommittee universally praised CHCs and the THCGME Program and expressed the need for reauthorization. Many subcommittee members also acknowledged the primary care physician workforce shortage, which disproportionately affects rural and medically underserved communities. AACOM urges the House of Representatives to recognize the value of investing in preventative, primary health care by passing H.R. 2815 before October 1, 2019.
Interim VP of GR Discusses ED to MED and the Importance of Advocacy
Mary-Lynn Bender, AACOM’s Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations, shared her thoughts in the ED to MED blog about health professions education, advocacy, and the importance of engaging in the policymaking process. Learn what drives her passion for advocacy and her views on why federal financial aid and loan repayment programs are so important to the future physician workforce.
GR Staff Recommend ED to MED Summer Reading
With the first official day of summer quickly approaching, now is a great time to plan your summer reading list. AACOM GR looked back at this year’s ED to MED blog posts to recommend some inspiring, educational, and entertaining summer reads
ED Publishes NPRM on Accreditation
On June 12, ED published a notice of proposed rulemaking for the Federal Student Aid programs based on the work of its negotiated rulemaking committee earlier this year. The committeereached consensus on all three blocks, or “buckets,” of the regulatory issues it considered. The consensus-based proposed regulations would: provide greater autonomy to accrediting agencies in their oversight of institutions; reduce barriers to entry for new accrediting agencies; establish the roles and responsibilities of institutions and accrediting agencies in the teach-out process; and revise state authorization requirements for institutions offering distance education, among other changes. ED also announced that proposed regulations on distance education, state authorization, and faith-based institutions will soon follow.
Administration Publishes Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has released its Spring 2019 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions
. According to various laws and executive orders, agencies are required to publish semiannual agendas for regulatory actions that “may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” Of particular importance to osteopathic medical schools and students are the timelines
provided for upcoming regulatory actions by ED. The agenda notes that later this month, ED expects to rescind the gainful employment (GE) regulations, and plans to issue final actions on borrower defense to repayment and Title IX regulations in September. AACOM will continue to provide updates and engage with the Administration as the regulatory process moves forward.
Reminder of 2019 GE Compliance Dates
ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education recently issued an announcement on the 2019 GE compliance dates to remind institutions that beginning on July 1, 2019, institutions must provide to prospective students thedisclosure template prior to any prospective student’s signing of an enrollment agreement, completing registration, or making a financial commitment. Additionally, ED has released the disclosure template for institutions to use to inform these students of total program costs, median cumulative debt, program completion time, licensure information, access to the College Scorecard, and, where applicable, language about the institution’s GE program.
Implemented in 2015, the GE regulations particularly impact for-profit institutions and require that students receive the proper training to be gainfully employed upon graduation with a reasonable amount of student debt that does not lead to default on their student loans. AACOM has submitted comments urging ED to recognize the unique characteristics of medical education and exempt all U.S. graduate terminal degree medical education programs from any GE-related requirements.
ED Establishes Disaster Recovery Unit
On June 5, Frank Brogan, the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, announced ED’s creation of a new five-member Disaster Recovery Unit (DRU) to assist schools in preparing for and recovering from natural disasters. The DRU is tasked with managing federal aid to schools that have experienced a natural disaster and helping schools coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies, as well as state and local officials, to expedite recovery. ED is expected to provide a plan in the coming weeks to spend the additional aid for education-related disaster assistance programs that was approved earlier this month.
Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement
NIH RePORTER Debuts Matchmaker
: The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools database recently introduced Matchmaker, a new online tool to assist grant applicants in identifying the NIH Institute that is the best match for their research.Matchmaker
also allows users to determine if similar projects have previously been funded and connects users with NIH program officials who have expertise in their desired research area. Learn more
DO Students Selected for NIH Medical Research Program
: Out of a pool of over 130 applicants, two osteopathic medical students, Fady Guirguis, Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, and Luke O'Connor, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York City, were selected to be a part of the 2019 – 2020 Medical Research Scholars Program
. The year-long program brings selected participants to NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, where they will receive mentored training and conduct basic, clinical, or transnational research work. At the conclusion of the program, the scholars will present their research to the NIH community and at national and international professional conferences.Learn more.
AZCOM Student Receives Excellence in Public Health Award
: Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University’s Family Medicine Student of the Year, Bradley R. Brown, was recognized by the HHS Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service
with the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Excellence in Public Health Award. The award recognizes medical student contributions to public health. “Mr. Brown’s leadership and hard work demonstrates his passion and dedication to public health within the medical profession,” stated Captain Brian Lewis, MD, Chief Medical Officer, USPHS. “His accomplishments clearly support health promotion and disease prevention, the cornerstones of Healthy People 2020 and the National Prevention Strategy.”
HRSA Training and Technical Assistance Hub
: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched a new website to centralize its training and technical assistance resources. The site is intended to be a resource for HRSA grantees and organizations that serve HRSA populations.Learn more
PCORI Annual Conference Registration Now Open
: Register now to attend the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Annual Conference in Washington, DC, from Wednesday, September 18 to Friday, September 20. The meeting will highlight how stakeholders in the health care community, including patients, researchers, and clinicians, are working to make health research more useful and relevant. Register now.
Government Officials Address Osteopathic Medical School Graduates
: Across the nation, colleges of osteopathic medicine have been celebrating the accomplishments of their graduating classes through commencement ceremonies. Graduates of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Lebanon, Oregon; the A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine; and the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine heard commencement remarks from government officials, including Oregon Governor Kate Brown and former Governor Barbara Roberts; Rear Admiral Joyce M. Johnson, DO, MA, USPHS (retired); and Ronald R. Blanck, DO, 39th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (retired), respectively. AACOM congratulates the class of 2019! Learn more.