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Congress Debates New Stimulus Bill in Response to COVID-19; U.S. Dept. of Education Introduces Title IX Final Rule and Reporting Requirements for CARES Act Fund Distribution

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May 18, 2020

What You Need to Know

 

AACOM Supports Longitudinal Study on Full COVID-19 Effects, Advocates for Out-of-State Clinical Rotations to Be Exempt from State Authorization Requirements

 

As our country continues to respond to the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, AACOM is working with Congress and federal agencies to advocate for policies that will aid the osteopathic medical education (OME) community in its response and mitigation efforts. AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, offered support for legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 across diverse patient populations, which would better enable our health care system to respond to this and future public health crises. We also continue to assess legislation that will support health care professionals working on the frontlines during this pandemic and recently endorsed a student debt relief bill, the Opportunities for Heroes Act. Our association has also urged the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to as they continue adjusting and adapting to the many educational and administrative challenges posed by the pandemic. As Congress considers additional stimulus packages to address the serious economic impacts of COVID-19, AACOM will continue advocating for and educating membership on crucial items of interest to OME.

On The Hill

House Passes Comprehensive COVID-19 Aid Package

 

On Friday, the House passed by a vote of 208 to 199 a $3 trillion economic relief package to aid those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Introduced by House Democrats, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800), which includes provisions championed by Democrats that were left out of previous bills, cements their priorities for the next round of congressional negotiations. The bill follows the $483.4 billion signed into law earlier this month, which replenished the depleted Paycheck Protection Program and funded hospitals and other medical providers along with federal, state, and local coronavirus testing.

 

Among other items, the HEROES Act would provide nearly $1 trillion to states and local governments, $200 billion to fund essential workers, $100 billion in education stimulus funding, and up to $10,000 of loan forgiveness for “economically distressed” borrowers of federal and private student loans. It would also allow the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to distribute $1 billion in grants for the establishment, improvement, and expansion of medical schools in underserved areas. Despite dismissing the House bill and calling for a “pause” on new COVID-19 legislation, Senate Republicans are reportedly working to respond with their own package.

AACOM Voices Support for Legislation to Protect Public Health through COVID-19 Research

 

The Ensuring Understanding of COVID-19 to Protect Public Health Act (/), introduced by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY), seeks to expand our evidence-based understanding of the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 across diverse patient populations. The bill would instruct the NIH, in conjunction with the CDC, to conduct a longitudinal study on the full effects of COVID-19 and would require frequent public reports of the study’s findings.

 

AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, was quoted in Senator Rosen’s announcing the bill’s introduction, stating: “More research is critical to our understanding of COVID-19’s short- and long-term physical and mental health effects across diverse patient populations. Therefore, AACOM strongly supports Senators Rosen’s and Rubio’s efforts to require a nationwide, longitudinal study led by the NIH and CDC on COVID-19’s full impact. The outcomes of this study will be vital to robustly equip our nation’s health care system to mitigate and combat future pandemics and other public health crises.”

AACOM Endorses Student Debt Relief Bill

 

U.S. Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced the Opportunities for Heroes Act (H.R. 6699), which recognizes the crucial role that first responders and essential employees, including health care professionals, play in delivering vital services and care to communities across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would provide $25,000 in student loan debt relief or education credit to these essential employees and their family members as they help the country respond to the current health emergency. AACOM has this legislation and continues to assess other measures that provide financial support for health care professionals working on the frontlines during this pandemic.

AACOM Joins Letter in Support of Supplemental AHRQ Funding

 

As a member of the Friends of AHRQ coalition, AACOM nearly 20 national organizations in a letter to congressional Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee leadership requesting additional support for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support evaluations and research related to the health care system’s response to COVID-19 in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 emergency supplemental appropriations bill. AHRQ produces evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and works with its partners to ensure evidence is communicated and understood.

AACOM Joins Congressional Letter in Support of Health Care Workers’ Mental Health

 

AACOM more than 50 organizations to support a bipartisan letter spearheaded by U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) to House leadership calling for enhanced mental health resources for frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The letter, which was signed by over 90 Members of Congress, requested the establishment of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant program to assess and treat the mental health of frontline workers, as well as a comprehensive study on health care workers’ mental health.

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Advocacy

ED to MED Shows how CARES Act Affects Health Professions Students and Graduates

ED to MED Shows how the CARES Act Affects Health Professions Students and Graduates

 

The $2.3 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. This expansive stimulus package, along with providing loans and support to major industries and directing payments to individuals and families, includes provisions that directly impact health professions students and graduates. .

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Administration and Federal Agencies

AACOM Comments on ED Distance Education and Innovation NPRM

 

On May 4, to ED Secretary Betsy DeVos in response to the (NPRM) regarding distance learning and innovation for higher education, issued on April 1, 2020. The NPRM is the result of consensus-backed language of . In the May 4 comment letter, AACOM urges ED to recognize the unique nature of medical education and to thoroughly evaluate the unintended consequences that the proposed rulemaking may have on the critical instruction that medical students receive during core, out-of-state clinical rotations. Additionally, AACOM requests that ED provide language that helps to ensure that COMs do not face undue financial and administrative burdens with respect to distance education, causing further strain to institutions during the global crisis. ED expects to issue a final regulation before November 1, and AACOM will continue to update its membership as warranted.

ED Publishes Title IX Final Rule

 

On May 6, ED that seeks to revise schools’ responses to sexual harassment and assault under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. A culmination of three years of activity, these regulations, effective August 14, 2020, carry the full weight of law. The regulations, which will require university compliance within three months of issuance, focus on what constitutes sexual harassment under Title IX and how schools must respond to reported incidents within their educational programs and activities. The new regulations upend the definition of sexual harassment, the evidentiary standard of proof, and the entire procedure from notification through appeal. AACOM is continuing to evaluate the final regulation. For additional information, please review an provided by Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose (HMBR), LTD.

ED Issues Updated Guidance on Distance ED Amid COVID-19 and Outlines Reporting Requirements for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

 

ED has that expands upon policies previously issued on both March 5 and April 3 related to interruptions of study resulting from COVID-19. The guidance addresses the delivery of distance education, for which ED announced that it will allow for “broad approval for the use of distance education” as described in previous guidelines for payment periods that overlap March 5, or that begin on or between March 5 and December 31. ED also notes that it will waive the MCAT requirement for foreign graduate medical school admissions for those students who are unable to take the exam due to the pandemic. The guidance offers additional information on other issues including leaves of absence, return of Title IV funds, and satisfactory academic progress.

 

Following the of nearly $6.2 billion in emergency cash grants for students authorized under the CARES Act, ED recently issued interim guidelines for universities to report on the use of the funds. The May 6, 2020 instruct universities to post certain information to their website within 30 days of receiving their allocation under Section 18004 of the CARES Act. This information, to be updated on the university website every 45 days, should include an acknowledgment of attestation of the funds and information about the amount and distribution of the funds. While ED will release further reporting guidelines, AACOM members are encouraged to provided by HMBR exclusively for the OME community on what the CARES Act means for osteopathic medical schools, students, and residents navigating the impact of COVID-19. For additional information and resources of particular importance to OME, please visit the .

2020 Faculty Loan Repayment Program Application Now Open

 

HRSA has opened its FY20 application cycle for the . Applications are due by 7:30 PM ET on June 25. Administered by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce, the FLRP 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. Applicants must have an employment commitment as a faculty member at an approved health professions institution for a minimum of two years. Interested applicants may participate in a technical assistance call on June 4 from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM ET.

HRSA Awards $15 Million to Health Care Workforce Programs

 

HRSA recently announced $15 million in CARES Act funding in response to COVID-19. Nearly 160 organizations will receive funding across five of HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce programs, including the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program; the Area Health Education Centers Program; the Centers of Excellence Program; the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention – Veteran Nurses in Primary Care Training Program; and the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention – Registered Nurses in Primary Care Program. As a result of this funding, health care professionals and students will be trained to utilize telehealth for essential care, such as screening and testing, during the pandemic.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

Final Reminder: NHSC Loan Repayment Program Applications Due May 21:

Applications for HRSA’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are due on May 21. Osteopathic clinicians who want to serve in Health Professional Shortage Areas may receive up to $100,000 in loan repayment through the NHSC LRP, Substance Use Disorder Workforce LRP, and Rural Community LRP in exchange for providing care to patients in these underserved areas. .

Application Deadline Extended for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program:

HRSA has extended the application deadline for the three-year Rural Communities Opioid Response Program to May 26. The HRSA Office of Rural Health Policy will provide $1 million to recipients to strengthen and expand substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services in high-risk rural communities. .

Small Research Grant Program Now Accepting Applications:

The NIH has opened applications for the Small Research Grant Program, which supports small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources. This program supports different types of projects including pilot and feasibility studies; secondary analysis of existing data; small, self-contained research projects; development of research methodology; and development of new research technology. .

HRSA Launches Updated COVID-19 Web Page: In order to provide information during this challenging time, HRSA has introduced the new COVID-19 Information for Health Centers and Partners web page, which includes helpful links on health center funding, federal updates, and FAQs. .

Copyright ©2020 American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. All Rights Reserved.

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