AACOM Statements to U.S Department of Education, Council of Graduate Medical Education, and Congress on OME, GME, and Patient Care



May 4, 2020

What You Need to Know


AACOM Advocates for Polices that Support OME, Expand GME, and Enhance Public Health


To help ensure our nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs), medical educators, students, and residents receive the resources and support they need at this unprecedented time, AACOM is advocating for Congress and federal agencies to advance policy solutions and interventions that support osteopathic medical education (OME) and the health care workforce. We urged the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to the pandemic has on our COMs prior to its issuance of guidance on emergency education funding, have in the health professions training programs that play an essential role in preparing those who will be at the forefront of fighting this pandemic, and recently to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME) as the Council develops recommendations to address COVID-19 challenges.


Furthermore, we continue to to Medicare-supported residency positions to address our nation’s physician shortage. Our country faced a physician workforce shortage even before the pandemic; COVID-19 makes our dire demand for physicians more immediate, both to respond to this current crisis and to mitigate those of the future. As Congress works to address the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19, AACOM offers an and will continue our efforts as additional spending bills are debated.

On The Hill

President Signs Into Law Interim COVID-19 Aid Package


In a continued effort to combat the significant economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the President last month signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139), a $483.4 billion relief package originally meant to be an “interim” fix to replenish a small-business loan program created in the , the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-134). Dubbed COVID 3.5, the latest package includes $321 billion for the depleted Paycheck Protection Program to aid small businesses suffering under the COVID-19 pandemic, $75 billion for hospitals and other medical providers to cover increased expenses and lost revenue, and $25 billion for federal, state, and local coronavirus testing. Lawmakers are discussing the next supplemental spending bill as the Senate returns to Washington this week, and another coronavirus response package is expected in the near future. .

AACOM Joins HPNEC in Support of Health Workforce Training Program Funding


As a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC's) Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC), AACOM 80 national organizations in a letter to congressional leadership calling for at least $367 million in supplemental emergency funding for HRSA's Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs to aid in the COVID-19 response. These programs play an essential role in training and preparing members of the health workforce who are central to containing and mitigating COVID-19. HPNEC is an alliance of national organizations representing schools, programs, communities, health professionals, and students dedicated to ensuring the health care workforce is trained to meet the evolving health needs of the country. The coalition continues to $790 million for the HRSA Title VII and Title VIII programs in fiscal year 2021.

Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act Signed into Law


Last week, the President signed into law the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-140), which builds on to minimize the impact on student veterans as a result of their schools closing or moving to online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The law protects GI Bill benefits throughout the pandemic by preserving work study and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs and allows students to maintain their GI Bill eligibility during emergency situations.




Urge Congress to Expand the Physician Workforce!


As physicians nationwide continue to mobilize to care for the surge of COVID-19 patients, the effects of the physician shortage are becoming more tangible and severe. Federal policies that address this shortage are critical now more than ever amid the strain on our health care system and will remain so as our country’s population grows and ages, and more physicians retire. Increasing the number of medical residency slots is an important step to ensuring patients across the country will be able to access the health care they need. AACOM calls on its advocates to urge Congress to support the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 1763/S. 348), which would help alleviate the physician shortage by creating 15,000 new Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions over a five-year period. If implemented, this bill would produce an estimated 3,750 new physicians annually to better equip the U.S. to respond to future pandemics and public health emergencies. in support of addressing the physician shortage by expanding GME.


Tyler King Video Interview

The Road to Rural: From Teaching Students to Treating Patients: A Video Interview


Recent AACOM Osteopathic Health Policy Intern Tyler King, fourth-year student at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, is passionate about addressing physician shortages in underserved communities. Learn what inspired him to pursue family medicine in rural South Texas and why he passionately advocates for Public Service Loan Forgiveness in his .



Administration and Federal Agencies

AACOM Presents Recommendations to COGME on the Health Care Workforce Amid COVID-19


Last week, AACOM President and CEO Robert Cain, DO, outlined efforts by the OME community to address COVID-19 during HRSA’s COGME . COGME, authorized by Congress, provides an ongoing assessment of physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies of undergraduate and GME programs, and recommends appropriate federal and private sector efforts to address identified needs. Dr. Cain served on a panel focused on training and accelerating the entering workforce alongside leaders from other health professions organizations including the AAMC, the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Provost, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Kenneth Veit, DO, MBA, was nominated by AACOM to serve on this Council in 2015, and currently serves as a COGME member.


To supplement Dr. Cain’s presentation, AACOM as the Council develops recommendations surrounding the physician and health care workforce amid COVID-19 challenges. AACOM urged the Council to prioritize requests to Congress for adequate resources and to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for additional regulatory flexibilities to sustain the nation’s health care system and help foster the availability of a future physician workforce that is comprehensively trained and adequately prepared to provide high-quality health care both during COVID-19 and beyond.

AACOM Advocates for Medical Education in Letter to Education Secretary DeVos


AACOM continues to engage with Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies regarding policies related to COVID-19, urging the federal government to provide resources and flexibility to osteopathic medical schools, students, and residents as they navigate the pandemic, and eventually work toward recovery. In a , AACOM outlined the vital role that the nation’s osteopathic medical schools are playing in the COVID-19 response, including through the initiative. Importantly, AACOM urged ED to provide equitable funding and regulatory relief as our member institutions work to mitigate the massive disruptions to osteopathic medical school finances, operations, and students’ learning environments.


Following the more than $6 billion that was released to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to provide direct emergency cash grants to students, ED announced on April 21 an additional $6.2 billion for IHEs to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and to support effective remote learning operations. These funds are part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided by the CARES Act. ED has issued on certification, use of funds, and IHE reporting requirements, and institutions are encouraged to review ED’s for further information.

Physicians and Health Care Professionals Exempt from Presidential Proclamation Suspending Immigration for 60 Days


Physicians, other health care professionals, and lawful permanent U.S. residents are exempt from the signed by President Trump on April 22. Health care professionals seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa are deemed as performing essential work to combat the spread or otherwise alleviate the effects of COVID-19. The proclamation suspends entry to the U.S. for 60 days and became effective at 11:59 PM ET on April 23.

HRSA Announces the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program


HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is accepting applications through June 30 for the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program. The purpose of this grant program is to develop new rural residency programs or Rural Training Tracks in family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry to support expansion of the physician workforce in rural areas. Hospitals, medical schools, and community-based ambulatory settings that have a rural designation along with consortia of urban and rural partnerships are eligible to apply. The funds will support planning and development costs accrued while achieving program accreditation through ACGME. HRSA will host a for interested applicants on Friday, May 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET. .

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

Yara Khalifa

NSU-KPCOM Celebrates Omega Beta Iota Inductions: Second-year student at the Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM) Yara Khalifa was inducted into Omega Beta Iota (OBI)—the National Osteopathic Political Honor Society—on March 30. Induction into OBI is an honorary recognition for politically active medical students and professional mentors who demonstrate excellence in health care politics. Yara also coauthored the resolution “Effects of Climate Change on Human Health,” which was passed at the American Osteopathic Association's (AOA)’s OMED annual medical conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

Richard R. Thacker, DO, Assistant Dean of Clinical Sciences and Clinical Resources at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and graduate of NSU-KPCOM’s Class of 1992, was named national adviser to OBI. Dr. Thacker also serves on the AOA Board of Trustees as vice chair of the Department of Educational Affairs and as the board liaison for the Advocates to the AOA. He also is the treasurer of the Osteopathic Political Action Committee—the political arm of the American Osteopathic Information Association.

HHS Virtual Toolkit Created for COVID-19 Health Care Workforce Challenges:

The Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response created a virtual toolkit of evolving resources for health care professionals responding to COVID-19 workforce challenges. .

Reminder: Application Deadline Extended for NHSC Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs: HRSA has extended the application deadlines for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program (SP) to May 15, and the Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) to May 21, 2020. Students pursuing a career in primary health care are eligible to through the NHSC SP in exchange for practicing in underserved areas. Applicants may for additional program information. Osteopathic clinicians who want to serve in Health Professional Shortage Areas through the NHSC LRP, Substance Use Disorder Workforce LRP, and Rural Community LRP in exchange for providing care to patients in these underserved areas. Learn more about the NHSC and today.

HRSA Announces Funding for Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response:

The Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response initiative, funded through HRSA, assists health care providers responding to the challenges of COVID-19 in tribal communities. Specifically, funding may be used to establish testing sites and purchase personal protective equipment and other items necessary to care for patients. Eligible applicants must .

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