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September 19, 2022

AACOM in Action

What You Need to Know

Bipartisan Bill Opens Residencies to DOs and COMLEX-USA

 

AACOM is excited to announce the introduction of the . Championed by Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Sam Graves (R-MO), this bipartisan bill ensures that osteopathic medical students and their exam, COMLEX-USA, are accepted in all Medicare-funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help strengthen the physician pipeline, support equitable treatment of osteopathic medical students and increase access to high-quality, patient-centered healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

 

The bill's introduction is the culmination of a year’s worth of advocacy where AACOM leveraged our partnerships with Venable and McDermott+ lobby firms in pursuit of a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to introduce legislation addressing this long-term discrimination. AACOM worked closely with our deans, students, faculty and the osteopathic community to grow congressional support through letters from colleges of osteopathic medicine and coordinated advocacy. AACOM also made the introduction of the FAIR Act a priority during our 2021 and 2022 Advocacy Days, identifying leaders and supporters through hundreds of osteopathic medical education-led congressional meetings.

 

While introduction is a significant first step, more needs to be done to achieve enactment. Congress has a busy fall calendar with many priority items left undone. With only seven legislative days left before they leave for the midterm elections, Congress must pass a temporary funding measure to avoid a government shutdown on September 30, 2022. Once in recess, lawmakers will pivot to campaigning and push legislative priorities to an end of year lame-duck session.

 

AACOM will aggressively pursue opportunities to advance the FAIR Act before the end of this congressional year. We will seek cosponsors to H.R. 8850 and pursue a Senate companion bill. We will also look for any chance to add the language to a moving vehicle, which will be unlikely given the limited congressional calendar. If unsuccessful, we will reintroduce the FAIR Act in the 118th Congress. We encourage the osteopathic community to help us continue this critical momentum to enact residency fairness for DOs.

AACOM Advocates

Urge Congress to Support the FAIR Act

 

Whether you participated in grassroots efforts or one of the 141 congressional meetings during AACOM Advocacy Day, your outreach made a difference. We need the osteopathic community to keep the pressure up and grow congressional support to ensure federally funded graduate medical education (GME) programs equitably accept and assess DO residency candidates. Act now to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the FAIR Act (H.R. 8850) or introduce a Senate companion bill.

Policy Update

Learn More About the FAIR Act (H.R. 8850)

 

The FAIR Act requires Medicare-funded GME programs to do the following as a condition for participation:

(1) report annually the number of applicants for residency from osteopathic and allopathic medical schools and how many such applicants were accepted from each respective type of school, and;

 

(2) affirm annually that they accept applicants from osteopathic and allopathic medical schools, and that if an examination score is required for acceptance, the COMLEX-USA and USMLE will be equally accepted.

H.R. 8850 is intended to address the many residency programs that refuse to accept DOs or require DOs to take the USMLE.

  • The reports that 36 percent of residency program directors never or seldom interview DO candidates.
  • The shows 32 percent of residency programs mandate that osteopathic medical students take the USMLE.

Medicare funds 71 percent of all GME and the FAIR Act requires programs accepting these funds to also accept DOs and COMLEX-USA.

AACOM Joined by 36 (and Counting) Organizations in Support of the FAIR Act

 

  • AACOM has gathered a robust list of national and state medical organizations as signers of a in support of the FAIR Act.
  • The letter highlights the need to strengthen DO residency training to meet the nation’s healthcare needs, expand primary care services and improve access in rural and underserved areas.
  • All signers agree that it is time to end discrimination against the osteopathic profession by opening federally funded residency programs to DOs and COMLEX-USA.
  • The supporter list continues to grow! If you participate in an organization that may want to sign the letter, please email before Friday September 23, 2022.

Press Releases for the FAIR Act

: “Ensuring that osteopathic medical students have an equitable path to residency not only reflects the spirit of single accreditation, which was designed to increase access to residency programs for both DOs and MDs, but it also addresses persistent and prevalent biases against osteopathic medical students, many of whom will go on to care for patients in rural and medically underserved communities.”

: “It’s more critical now than ever that we ensure our taxpayer-funded residency training programs are equally deploying all the best talent of tomorrow’s doctors and specialists, from both DO and MD educational backgrounds.”

: “It’s ridiculous that osteopathic medical students are facing discrimination and extra hurdles to accessing federally funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help to ensure more accountability from these programs.”

: “North Missouri is the home to A.T. Still University in Kirksville, MO, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, which continues to train the next generation of DOs. In a day and age when doctors are in short supply, specifically in rural areas, it’s critical they are able to complete their training and begin practicing.”

Meet the FAIR Act Sponsors

 

Working with AACOM, three Members of Congress took the courageous step to introduce the FAIR Act. These Members have been longtime supporters of osteopathic medical education and were compelled by the benefits the local COMs bring to the community. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with these leaders and their staff to advance this important bill.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger – Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District

  • Representative Harshbarger, the lead sponsor, has been a licensed pharmacist and a successful business owner for more than three decades.
  • A first term member of the Tennessee delegation, her district is close to Lincoln Memorial University – Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM).
  • Harshbarger sits on the House Committee on Education and Labor and is a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus.

Rep. Chellie Pingree – Maine’s 1st Congressional District

  • A former Maine Senate Majority Leader, farmer and small-town business leader, Representative Pingree was first elected to Congress in 2008.
  • She represents the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM) in Biddeford.
  • Pingree is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and Committee on Agriculture and a member of the Community Health Centers Caucus and Chair of the Progressive Rural Task Force Caucus.

Rep. Sam Graves – Missouri’s 6th Congressional District

  • A farmer and general aviation pilot, Rep. Graves was first elected to Congress in 2000.
  • He represents A.T. Still University – Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), the founding college of the osteopathic profession.
  • Graves is the Ranking Republican Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a member of the Committee on Armed Services and the Chair of the House Rural Education Caucus.

Engagement and Resources

Join Us to Advance the FAIR Act: Whether you’re a dean, student, resident, practicing DO, faculty member or another member of the osteopathic community, you can make a difference to build congressional support. Please contact if you would be interested in participating in meetings with your Members of Congress to advocate for the FAIR Act.

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