AACOM Washington Insider - October 7, 2019

Take Action October 17 for #COMDAY19! AACOM Endorses Bill
to Address Rural Health Shortages, Comments on CMS Proposed Rule
AACOM's 2019 COM Day on Capitol Hill

October 7, 2019

What You Need to Know


Next Thursday, October 17, AACOM will host osteopathic medical school deans, the Assembly of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Educators, and other designated AACOM members in Washington, DC for AACOM’s 2019 COM Day on Capitol Hill, in which COM Day attendees will meet with Congress about federal policy issues impacting osteopathic medical education (OME). Simultaneously, advocates will take action online during our , #COMDAY19, to ensure that the broader health professions community shows strong support to protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Grad PLUS Loan Programs.


Our nation’s colleges of osteopathic medicine are educating nearly 31,000 future physicians. Considering that it takes responses to a social media post by a Member of Congress to capture the attention of a congressional office, imagine the impact the OME community could have if we speak up together. Be a part of the process and !


Mary-Lynn Bender

Interim Vice President of Government and Public Relations

On The Hill

President Signs Short-Term Continuing Resolution


On September 27, the President signed into law a continuing resolution to prevent a federal government shutdown, extending current funding until November 21 and buying time for Congress to continue negotiating all 12 appropriations bills before the new deadline. The package also includes short-term funding for several important health care programs, including the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, which was previously set to expire on October 1. House and Senate leadership are working to avoid a government shutdown this November, but disagreements over border wall funding and other issues are complicating congressional negotiations. AACOM will continue to advocate for programs of importance to OME as Congress progresses through the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.


Senate HELP Chairman Reveals Higher Education Package


On September 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a package of eight bipartisan bills that would update parts of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Alexander’s Student Aid Improvement Act (S. 2557) includes Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) simplification, short-term Pell grants, Pell grants for parole-eligible prisoners, and maximum Pell grant award increases. The scaled-back legislation does not address the PSLF or Grad PLUS Loan Programs.


Senate HELP Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), have criticized the bill for its piecemeal approach, as it does not address college affordability, campus safety, and other contentious topics that have complicated negotiations between the Republican and Democrat committee leaders. AACOM is closely monitoring developments on the HEA reauthorization for priorities impacting osteopathic medical schools and students.


AACOM Endorses the Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act of 2019


AACOM endorsed the Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act of 2019 (H.R. 3753/S. 2116), introduced by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Similar to the , H.R. 3753/S. 2116 differs slightly in that it would address a dated Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rule by increasing eligibility criteria, allowing more programs permission to create new caps and establish new per-resident amounts.





#COMDAY19: Advocate on October 17


On Virtual Hill Day on October 17, AACOM is calling on the OME community to urge Congress to save the PSLF and Grad PLUS Loan Programs in the reauthorization of the HEA. Take action via social media by communicating with lawmakers using the Virtual Hill Day hashtag, #COMDAY19. These programs are pivotal to creating a diverse future health care workforce to provide patients with quality care. Voice your concerns by tagging your Members of Congress and share your story online to illustrate the importance of the PSLF and Grad PLUS Loan Programs to our communities. .

AACOM Now Accepting Osteopathic Health Policy Internship Applications


Gain firsthand experience working at the national level on health care and higher education policy issues through AACOM's , open to osteopathic medical students as part of the association’s . Interns spend eight consecutive weeks at AACOM’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, DC developing a comprehensive understanding of policy development, analysis, and implementation. Learn more about the program and how to .

A Medical Resident’s Perspective on Why Congress Should Save PSLF


As a recent graduate of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, Katherine D. Kirby, DO, is urging her fellow residents to get involved in advocacy. ED to MED spoke with Dr. Kirby about why PSLF matters to medical students, residents, patients, and communities, and why Congress should continue to support this crucial program. Find out how PSLF relieves the financial burden from residents like Dr. Kirby and why it is important to .



Administration and Federal Agencies

AACOM Analysis: BDR Final Rule Provisions of Interest to OME


On August 30, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) the long-awaited final regulations that update the process for adjudicating borrower defense to repayment (BDR) claims and relevant financial responsibility provisions. The new regulations revise the standards that ED will use to adjudicate BDR claims and will take effect for all new loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020. AACOM has reviewed the rule and prepared an analysis of provisions of interest to OME. .

AACOM Comments on CMS CY20 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule


AACOM recently submitted to CMS regarding its calendar year 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule. AACOM commented in support of CMS’ continued focus on reducing administrative burdens and the agency’s Patients Over Paperwork Initiative, and provided recommendations regarding the review and verification of medical record documentation. CMS is expected to issue a final rule later this year.

Now Open: 2020 NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program


Osteopathic medical students can now apply for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)'s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) FY20 application cycle. The S2S LRP provides up to $120,000 in loan repayment assistance to medical or dental students in their final year of school in exchange for a commitment to provide primary health care services in eligible health professional shortage areas with the greatest needs. The NHSC is seeking applicants who are interested in serving communities with limited access to health care and providing care through their initial service commitment and beyond. Applications are due by 7:30 PM ET on Thursday, October 31. Interested individuals may participate in multiple technical assistance opportunities, including an application webinar on October 9. .

DOL Issues Final Rule on Overtime Eligibility


On September 24, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) updating the earning thresholds for white-collar exemptions to overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rule raises the standard salary level from $455 to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year). The DOL estimates that this change will entitle 1.3 million workers to overtime protection and that workers will receive $298.8 million in extra pay each year because of this increase in the salary threshold. The FLSA provides an exemption from overtime pay for employees in “a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity,” subject to certain requirements. The DOL Wage and Hour Division also published to provide guidance on the applicability of this exemption to employees in the higher education sector. Of particular relevance to the OME community is the FLSA’s exemption of professional employees—namely teachers, learned professionals, and employees who practice law or medicine. Employers must comply with the final rule beginning January 1, 2020. View the DOL for further information and resources.

NIH Awards $945 Million in Research for the HEAL Initiative


Last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $945 million for FY19 for projects through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative (HEAL Initiative). NIH is funding 400 awards in 41 states to provide support for scientific research efforts to improve treatments for chronic pain, lower rates of opioid use disorder and overdose, and help patients achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction. The intent of the HEAL Initiative is to combat the opioid crisis by means of scientific research in the areas of clinical, preclinical, and translational research in pain management, novel medication options for opioid use disorder and overdose, and new strategies for prevention and treatment of opioid addiction.

ED Proposes Reorganization of FSA Office


ED is working to expand and reorganize its Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office. The FSA is currently undertaking the Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment project to develop a new digital engagement service and payments platform. Additionally, ED the 2021 FAFSA® form and rolled out the . To support the Next Gen initiative, ED expects to add employees and reallocate resources to the project moving forward. The reorganization proposal seeks to create a new dedicated office for the Next Gen project, which will be led by Matthew Waggoner, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Budget Formulation, and to increase the overall number of FSA employees to better serve FSA customers.

VA Launches New Training Program to Support its Electronic Health Modernization


As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) electronic health record modernization effort, the VA recently a new training program, the VA Innovative Technology Advancement Lab (VITAL). Currently, VITAL has 76 trainees enrolled in the 12 – 18 month training program, which aims to teach employees how to develop technical and supporting management skills necessary to implement the new electronic health record (EHR) system at VA sites. The EHR Modernization effort will consolidate all veteran health information, including health data for active-duty service members and veterans, into a single platform and will facilitate the secure and efficient sharing of information across VA sites, the Department of Defense, and community care providers.

Featured Federal Resources and COM Engagement

UNECOM Awarded NIH Alzheimer’s Grant: Benjamin Harrison, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, was awarded a grant of more than $315,000 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH to develop effective therapies targeting multiple facets of Alzheimer’s disease, including the prevention, delay, or reverse of brain lesion formation, a major component of the disease.

Access Loan Repayment Strategies Resource: On September 18, Paul Garrard, Founder and President of PGPresents, LLC, led an AACOM-hosted webinar on loan repayment strategies for osteopathic physicians. The webinar addressed how residents, fellows, and attending physicians are repaying their student loans; how to determine the best repayment strategy based on your student loan portfolio, training, and career plans; and how to adjust your repayment strategy as your circumstances change. Mr. Garrard is one of the nation’s leading experts on student loans and educational debt management for medical students, residents, fellows, and attending physicians. View the and .

Substance Use Disorder Clinician Warmline: To address substance use disorder challenges, the University of California, San Francisco is providing clinician-to-clinician telephone consultations focused on substance use evaluation and management for primary care clinicians through the Substance Use Warmline. This HRSA-supported resource offers consultations conducted by health care professionals with special expertise in addiction medicine. Consultations are available for health care providers only, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM ET. .

Participate in HRSA’s October Virtual Job Fair: On Wednesday, October 16 from 6:45 PM – 10:45 PM ET, HRSA will host a Virtual Job Fair to connect trainees with practicing clinicians and health care sites nationwide. Participants will have the unique opportunity to engage with health care providers and receive real-time answers to their employment questions. .

Attend the NIH Frontiers in Addiction Research Mini-Convention: On October 18, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism will hold a free mini-convention in Chicago, IL focused on important and current topics in neuroscience and addiction research. .

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American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Office of Government Relations
500 New Jersey Avenue NW, Suite 380, Washington, DC 20001

Contact the editors: aacomgr@aacom.org

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