AACOM Washington Insider - October 22, 2019

Advocates Join #COMDAY19, House Democrats Introduce HEA Bill, AACOM and AOA Submit Comments to HRSA on Rural Health Care Access


AACOM's 2019 COM Day on Capitol Hill Advocates

From left: WVSOM Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean Craig Boisvert, DO, President James Nemitz, PhD, Vice President Edward G. Bridges, PhD, and Allison Daniel, OMS-IV, meet with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (center); U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) shakes hands with UP-KYCOM osteopathic medical student; U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA) meets with Michael Sampson, DO, Christian Pruitt, OMS-II, and Jazmoné Kelly, OMS-I, from PCOM-Georgia and South Georgia.

October 22, 2019

What You Need to Know


Last week, 26 teams of experts from the osteopathic medical education (OME) community traveled to Washington, DC from across the country to participate in AACOM’s 2019 COM Day on Capitol Hill. Attendees met with Members of Congress and their staffs to advocate for health and higher education federal policies and programs vital to OME. Advocates also strongly engaged on social media through AACOM’s fourth annual , urging legislators to consider the needs of future health professionals as Congress debates the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). AACOM sincerely thanks everyone who took part in our annual advocacy event and looks forward to our enduring work together to ensure the OME voice continues to be heard on Capitol Hill.


Mary-Lynn Bender

Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations

On The Hill

House Democrats Introduce HEA Legislation


On October 15, House Democrats, led by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), introduced their proposal for a sweeping overhaul of the HEA. The College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) includes a number of provisions, including Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) simplification, Pell Grants expansion, origination fee elimination, institutional accountability measures, campus safety, and federal student aid expansion to include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.


Although the bill faces criticism from House Education and Labor Republicans led by Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairman Scott plans to mark up the College Affordability Act in committee this week, with the goal of holding a House vote by the end of the year. AACOM is closely monitoring developments on the HEA reauthorization for priorities impacting the OME community.




From left: U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) provides remarks during AACOM’s COM Day welcome dinner; U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) with AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, at the welcome reception; and U.S. Representative Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), third from left, with osteopathic medical students at the welcome reception.

Advocates Visit Washington for COM Day on Capitol Hill


Twenty-six teams of osteopathic medical students, deans, and educators from the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine and the Assembly of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Educators convened in Washington, DC for AACOM’s 2019 COM Day on Capitol Hill, the association’s annual advocacy day. On the evening of October 16, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) spoke with attendees during the welcome reception and dinner. Senator Collins and Rep. McMorris Rodgers provided remarks, discussing the importance of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s . Both Members are long-time champions of this highly innovative and successful program that is crucial to addressing the primary care physician shortage in rural and underserved areas, and have introduced legislation that AACOM strongly endorses and is Congress to pass.


During nearly 100 congressional meetings on October 17, attendees shared their stories with legislators and voiced their support for federal policies and programs that are vital to the full continuum of OME. On social media, AACOM’s 4th annual engaged the wider health professions education community on issues affecting graduate student debt, loan repayment, and forgiveness. AACOM thanks everyone who participated this year for their engaged, passionate advocacy. Advocates’ sustained support will be vital as Congress continues to debate federal policies impacting OME and patient access to care.



Administration and Federal Agencies

AACOM and the AOA Comment on HRSA Rural Access to Health Care Services RFI


AACOM recently joined with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to to HRSA's (RFI) on rural access to health care services. The RFI is intended to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Rural Health Task Force created by HHS Secretary Alex Azar. AACOM and the AOA provided comments and recommendations on the core health care services needed in rural communities and how those services can be delivered; outlined important programs that support the future health care workforce, particularly in rural and underserved areas; and described other factors related to the sustainability of health care services in these communities.

FY20 Primary Care Training and Enhancement: Residency Training in Primary Care Program Now Open


HRSA is now accepting applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 (PCTE-RTPC) Program. The PCTE-RTPC Program seeks to enhance accredited residency training programs in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or combined internal medicine and pediatrics in rural and/or underserved areas by encouraging graduates to choose primary care careers in these specialties. Eligible entities for the program include accredited schools of osteopathic or allopathic medicine, public or nonprofit private hospitals, or a public or private non-profit entity capable of carrying out a residency training program in the aforementioned areas, which are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. HRSA anticipates that approximately $10 million will be available to fund up to 20 eligible grantees. Interested applicants may participate in an HRSA-hosted, pre-application technical assistance on October 23. Applications are due Friday, January 24, 2020. .

Administration Issues Executive Orders on Federal Agency Guidance Documents and Spending


On October 9, President Trump signed two executive orders (EOs) related to federal agency guidance documents and procedures. The first EO, “,” requires agencies to provide their guidance documents on websites that are easily accessible to the public and requires agency guidance documents to be treated as non-binding both in law and in practice, except when authorized by law or incorporated into a contract. This EO emphasizes that agencies must follow the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)'s notice of proposed rulemaking and comment procedures prior to issuing the final regulations when “significant” guidance documents are imposed. Some federal agencies already go through this process. According to the EO, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will issue a memorandum permitting agencies to have 120 days to post guidance and rescind guidance that is determined to no longer be in effect. The “” EO requires agencies to publicly provide notice of the agency’s jurisdiction and applicable legal standards prior to any enforcement action or adjudication. The EO also mandates that agencies provide opinion letters to individuals and businesses that request guidance on how to comply with the law.


Additionally, on October 10, President Trump signed another EO, “” that will effectively impose “Administrative pay-as-you-go” (PAYGO) requirements to federal agencies whenever they seek to impose a discretionary administrative action that would increase mandatory spending. Under the EO, each agency must include at least one proposal for reducing mandatory spending whenever a new regulatory cost is imposed. The Director of the OMB will issue instructions within 90 days on the implementation of the EO, including how agency administrative action proposals that increase mandatory spending and non-tax receipts will be evaluated.


AACOM will continue to monitor the implementation of these EOs and their impact on regulatory policies and processes affecting the OME community.

ED Formally Announces Reorganization of FSA Office


The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED)'s Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office, Mark A. Brown, proposed changes to the expansion and reorganization of the FSA Office. These changes are consistent with ED’s last month that it will develop a new digital engagement service and payment platform, referred to as the Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment project. The proposed changes involve moving to an operating model headed by five Deputy Chiefs who report to the Principal Deputy, who then report to the COO. FSA believes that decentralizing decision-making in this way will improve responsiveness and accountability. The five proposed Deputy Chief positions will oversee: Student Experience and Aid Delivery; Partner Participation and Oversight; Strategic Measures and Outcomes; Strategy, Innovation & Transformation; and the Next Gen FSA Program Office. The COO notes that the Next Gen FSA Program Office will transition elements of the Next Gen initiative to the FSA Office, and therefore, will be a temporary office in operation for about 36 months. The COO emphasized that the FSA Office is growing—not shrinking—and that the FY21 proposed budget includes plans to expand FSA by up to 1,500 employees.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

From left: VCOM-Carolinas Vice Dean Matthew D. Cannon, DO; Zoe Lombard, American College of Osteopathic Sports Medicine Student Organization President; VCOM-Carolinas Dean Timothy J. Kowalski, DO; Hannah Lorenzen, SGA Secretary and Honor Code Council Member; Ryan Holub, SGA Treasurer; Nicole Rosenberg, American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians Student Organization President; Congressman William Timmons; Harold "Skip" Garner, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Research Development; Danielle Souza, SGA President; Zil Shah, SGA Vice President; Eliane Biester, SOMA President; Michael Nelems, Sigma Sigma Phi National Honors Society President

Representative Timmons Learns About Mission Inspiring VCOM: U.S. Representative William Timmons (R-SC) recently visited the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)-Carolinas campus, learning first-hand about the osteopathic principles of healing and VCOM’s emphasis on prioritizing opioid research through genome testing and osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). During Rep. Timmons’ visit, VCOM-Carolinas student leaders discussed, among other topics, the importance of federal research funding, the usefulness of OMM for pain management to combat the opioid crisis, and the PSLF Program, an important consideration for many students from underserved regions. VCOM intentionally recruits students from rural and underserved areas in the hope that, as doctors, they will return to their communities to help address physician shortages in Appalachia. Representative Timmons represents many rural towns in South Carolina’s 4th District, an area keenly affected by both opioid addiction and physician shortages.

From left: Principal Investigator Jenifer Van Deusen, MEd, and co-lead Selma Holden, MD

UNECOM Receives SAMHSA Grant to Address Opioid Treatment Gap: The most recent National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Opioid Summary by State reveals that Maine was in the top ten of states with the highest overdose deaths involving opioids. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded a grant to the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) to adopt a national innovation currently in development that will provide the necessary training to medical students prior to their graduation, so they can receive the waiver to provide Medication-Assisted Treatment as soon as they begin residency. Entitled “Maine PCSS-U,” this project ensures that UNECOM medical students will complete the eight-hour requirement. Receiving this training as part of a physician’s formal education, including the opportunity to treat patients under supervision, can result in greater awareness and understanding of the disease of addiction, expertise in treating patients with opioid use disorder, and willingness to use the waiver. The project will also update UNECOM’s curriculum as well as that of the UNE Physician Assistant program. Principal Investigator Jenifer Van Deusen, MEd; Clinical Director Selma Holden, MD; and Evaluator Toho Soma, MPH, will lead the project. Ms. Van Deusen, in her role with the Coalition on Physician Education in Substance Use Disorders, is a co-developer of the groundbreaking national course that will be used to certify medical trainees for the necessary waiver. SAMHSA is encouraging all medical schools to provide this training to their students prior to graduation.

CCOM Students Discuss Health Care with U.S. Representative Casten: U.S. Representative Sean Casten (D-IL) visited Midwestern University’s Downers Grove Campus on October 2 to meet with and discuss the future of health care with students from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM). Representative Casten provided students with information about current health care legislation, including the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (H.R. 3), which aims to help control the cost of prescription drugs, and the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987), which the House of Representatives recently passed. Students also asked Rep. Casten about several topics ranging from health care to the environment. “The questions asked provided a great platform for discussion and we are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to hear about these topics from the point of view of our local representative,” said Paola Werner (CCOM, OMS-I), one of the organizers of the event.

ICOM Students Accepted into NHSC Scholarship Program: Two first-year medical students at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) have been accepted into the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program (SP). Kaleb Merrick and Jessica Roland, both members of ICOM’s Class of 2023, were recently inducted into the program. The NHSC SP awards scholarships to students pursuing eligible primary care health professions training. In return, scholars commit to provide primary care health services in . Students commit to a minimum two years of full-time service in exchange for a full year of scholarship support. .

UP-KYCOM Receives Grant to Offer NARCAN Training: The University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP-KYCOM) is offering free NARCAN training to university faculty, staff, and students, as well as first responders and community members. These training sessions, and the installation of four NARCAN stations across campus, are made possible by a $29,500 grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.


“Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of opioid use in Eastern Kentucky, there’s a high demand for NARCAN in the area,” noted Joshua Crum, DO, KYCOM Associate Dean for clinical affairs and Assistant Professor of family medicine. “Although NARCAN can be obtained over the counter, it’s important that individuals receive training prior to administering the medication. That's where this grant comes in. UP-KYCOM has the opportunity to offer hands-on training … so that trainees can learn how to properly administer the medication during a simulation.”


Between 2013 – 2017, the opioid overdose mortality rate in Pike County was twice the national average. .

October 21 – 27 is National Addiction Treatment Week: Participate in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Treatment Week by visiting for a list of research-based treatment resources. These resources include , , and .

Apply for the Community Convening Around Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Engagement Award: The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) plans to award $20.5 million as part of the Eugene, Washington for research support that encourages active integration of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other health care stakeholders. Letters of Inquiry are due by 5:00 PM ET on November 15. .

HHS/CMS Issue Brief on Maternal Health Care in Rural Communities: A new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issue brief, Improving Access to Maternal Health Care in Rural Communities, provides background information on communities’ access to maternal health care, particularly among Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian/Alaska Native women, and focuses attention on the need for national, state, and community-based organizations to collaborate on developing an action plan to improve access to maternal health care and outcomes for rural women and their babies. . 

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