May 17, 2021

What You Need to Know


Last month, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) the start of bipartisan legislative efforts to improve the nation’s public health infrastructure and medical preparedness and response programs. Senators Murray and Burr released a framework of legislative proposals based on lessons learned during the COVID-19 response, including ensuring sufficient public health and medical capacity to continue providing critical services to at-risk populations. As the Senate HELP Committee works with stakeholders to improve the nation’s public health infrastructure and preparedness for future threats, AACOM and the AACOM-led initiative will actively engage the committee to ensure our nation is better equipped to respond to future pandemics. AACOM also applauds the Biden Administration for more than $7 billion in the public health workforce, and will be providing an analysis of the announcement to our membership.

On The Hill

AACOM Endorses Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act


AACOM the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act (H.R. 2418) to help alleviate the burden of student loan debt for frontline healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Reintroduced by US Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), H.R. 2418 recognizes the crucial role that health workers play in delivering vital services to communities across the country during the pandemic by providing federal and private loan forgiveness. AACOM this bill in the 116th Congress and recently published a on the federal student aid and loan relief policy landscape. AACOM is actively engaged in efforts such as the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act to make education more affordable for osteopathic medical students.

COMs: Submit Your Congressionally Directed Spending Requests for FY22 Beginning May 28


Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released more information on fiscal year (FY) 2022 Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) requests, also referred to as earmarks. According to published by the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), the subcommittee will accept Senators’ CDS requests between May 28 and July 8. Senators may submit requests on behalf of state and local governments and eligible nonprofits to meet the needs of a community and must adhere to strict funding and engagement parameters. While Senate Republicans on earmarks, the agreement is nonbinding, and several GOP senators are likely to request funding through this process.


The Senate guidance specifically highlights areas of interest to our colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs):

  • Health Facilities Construction and EquipmentCDS for the cost of construction, renovation, or capital equipment purchase for facilities for health, mental health, or substance abuse services, training of health professionals, or medical research. Examples of eligible facilities include hospitals; health centers and clinics; skilled nursing facilities; mental health centers; facilities for schools of medicine, nursing, or other health professions; and medical research laboratories.
  • Higher Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)—CDS can be designated under this heading for a wide variety of higher education projects. Generally, requests should focus on improving access to, or the quality of, postsecondary education. Examples of the types of projects that can be funded under FIPSE include projects to hire and train faculty, establish and improve degree programs, improve teacher preparation programs, develop and improve curricula, upgrade technology and telecommunications, acquire science laboratory equipment, provide student support, implement university partnerships with school districts, and establish research and training centers.

Members of the osteopathic medical education (OME) community are encouraged to consider a request for funding (i.e., infrastructure funding for research or workforce development). If interested, COMs should thoroughly review the , which outlines specific request types and requirements. Importantly, interested COMs should for individual office requirements and deadlines. A submitted request does not guarantee funding. Please notify AACOM GR at if you or your institution plans to submit a CDS request to your senator(s).

AACOM Urges Congress to Support Health Professions Education Priorities


AACOM 17 national organizations of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions in a letter to Congress urging the inclusion of health professions education priorities in the upcoming infrastructure and pandemic aid proposals. Notably, the letter prioritizes mental health funding and student loan forgiveness for health professionals. AACOM continues to advocate for federal policies that support OME and health professions education as lawmakers negotiate the future infrastructure package and COVID-19 legislation in the 117th Congress.


Administration and Federal Agencies

AACOM Analysis of CMS Proposed Rule to Implement New GME Slots


AACOM is providing an of the graduate medical education (GME) provisions included in the recently published Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) . Of importance are the three provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 pertaining to Medicare GME payments to teaching hospitals. AACOM recommendations to the CMS proposed rule are forthcoming.

HHS Posts Eligibility Resources for Health Professions Student Vaccinators


In follow-up to the AACOM-led initiative, which worked to enable health professions students to administer COVID-19 vaccines, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently posted requirements for health professions students to join the expanded vaccinator workforce. Interested osteopathic medical students can learn about .

ED Issues Guidance for Use of HEERF Grants


The US Department of Education (ED) recently released for the allocation of the third round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants authorized by the The guidance outlines changes to use of funds, reporting requirements and distribution information. Included in this new guidance is a detailing student eligibility. In a reversal from the previous administration, international students and undocumented students at institutions of higher education enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program can receive the emergency funding. .

ED Announces June Title IX Public Hearing


Pursuant to the recent Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity and the April 6 outlining steps to expand the discussion, the ED Office of Civil Rights has scheduled a from June 7-11. Please notify AACOM GR at if you or your institution plan to register and provide public comment.

Biden Administration Adds Key HHS and ED Staff


The Senate recently confirmed the nominations of Andrea Palm to serve as deputy secretary at HHS and Cindy Marten to serve as deputy secretary at ED. Both positions are considered second in command at each agency. Palm most recently led the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and previously held HHS leadership positions during the Obama Administration. She will oversee much of the regulatory agenda. Marten has led the San Diego Unified School District since 2013 and will oversee much of the K-12 education issues and liaise with state and local officials. The administration appointed Richard Cordray as chief operating officer at ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid, following the resignation of Mark Brown. Cordray previously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama Administration. AACOM will engage with these leaders to elevate and advance OME.



AACOM Launches New Advocacy Action Center


To further engage our membership in important advocacy opportunities and provide key updates on policy priorities and initiatives, AACOM has launched a . This new resource allows you to connect with your Members of Congress in support of legislation that will benefit OME, learn more about policies or regulatory actions that affect osteopathic medical schools and students and more.


to sign on to the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, which would provide federal and private loan forgiveness to frontline healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Engagement and Resources

Last Call for 2021 NHSC Loan Repayment Programs: Eligible osteopathic clinicians have until May 27 at 7:30 PM EDT to apply for the 2021 National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Programs. Applicants may join a Health Resources and Services Administration Q&A session on Thursday, May 20 from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM EDT and watch a recording of an April 1 webinar. .

DMU-COM Student Honored with an Excellence in Public Health Award: As a child, Aubrey Massmann wanted to become a journalist, but that changed when she was in middle school and her father became ill. “I’d always loved hearing people’s stories, but I realized a lot of people were falling through the cracks in medicine, and they needed their stories told,” she says. Aubrey will graduate in May with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine (DMU-COM) and a master of public health degree from the College of Health Sciences. Those dual credentials reflect her passion for healthcare, patient advocacy and the environment—and those passions fueled her accomplishments as a DMU student, which led to her selection for a 2021 Excellence in Public Health Award from the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Physician Professional Advisory Committee. The USPHS is a division of the HHS concerned with public health. .

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