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Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Health Professions Coalition Urges Title VII and Title VIII Funding Increases

February 24, 2017—The AAMC joined more than 50 national organizations of the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC) in a Feb. 23 letter  to House and Senate Appropriations Committees leaders of the 115th Congress. As the new Congress completes negotiations on final fiscal year (FY) 2017 Labor-HHS-Education spending, which is operating under a continuing resolution until April 28 [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 9, 2016], the letter urges appropriators to provide, at a minimum, FY 2016 funding levels for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs. 

The HPNEC letter highlights the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), which both the House and Senate proposed eliminating in their respective spending bills. The letter notes that “HCOP is the only federal pipeline program for minority and disadvantaged students who want to become health professionals.” The letter continues, “It is crucial that we enhance the federal commitment to the programs that equip the next generation of health professionals to keep up with the increasing health care challenges of a changing population.”


Matthew Shick, JD
Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
Telephone: 202-862-6116


AAMC Joins Letter Regarding AHRQ Funding

February 24, 2017—The AAMC joined 170 organizations representing patients and caregivers, health providers and clinicians, faculty and students, scientists, policy professionals, employers, and insurers on Feb. 10 community letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership expressing support for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The letter urges the Chairs and Ranking Members to protect AHRQ’s budget from further cuts in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and to provide the agency “at least $334 million in budget authority, consistent with current levels.”

In June 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill that would provide $324 million, a $10 million (2.9 percent) cut below the comparable FY 2016 funding level of $334 million [see Washington Highlights, June 10, 2016]. The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the spending bill with $280 million in budget authority for AHRQ, $54 million (16.2 percent) below FY 2016 [see Washington Highlights, July 8, 2016].

The letter describes the unique role that AHRQ carries out in “providing research that determines how to make care as effective, efficient, affordable, equitable, and safe as possible.” The letter goes on to point out that AHRQ tools and resources are “used in hospitals, medical centers, physician and other clinician practices, nursing facilities, clinics, and public health departments in communities across the nation to improve the quality, access, and value of the health care system.”

The letter also explains that although developing cures is an important component of the health care continuum, “Understanding how to most effectively and efficiently deliver cures to patients through health services research is a critical component,” calling it “one that has implications for health care quality, cost, access and ultimately patient outcomes.”

Like most other federal agencies, AHRQ is currently operating under a continuing resolution that has temporarily extended funding until April 28 at a rate of operations that is 0.1901 percent below FY 2016 levels [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 9, 2016].


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525

Joseph Bañez
Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-739-2995


AAMC Hosts First Workshop on Systems Approach to Community Health with Federal Agencies

February 24, 2017—The AAMC Feb. 23 launched its three year initiative aimed at Building a Systems Approach to Community Health and Health Equity for Academic Medical Centers.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded project seeks to map participating institutions’ community health-focused activities into coordinated systems, and subsequently evaluate impacts for patients, communities, learners and the AAMC-member institutions.

Featured panelists included Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health Director Cara James, PhD; National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Chief of Staff Courtney Aklin, PhD; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of the Associate Director for Policy Deputy Director Von Nguyen, MD, MPH; and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Division of Medicine and Dentistry Director Candice Chen, MD, MPH. The panelists each discussed their vision for a “learning community health system.”

The panel stressed that such a system would promote integrative research training, appreciate and learn from local community assets, develop a diverse set of future health leaders, and be facilitated by local and national policies that incentivize wellness, prevention and cross-sector collaboration.

More information about the initiative and how institutions can be involved, including presentations from the workshop, is available on the AAMC website


Philip M. Alberti, PhD
Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0522


Patent Office Rules in Favor of Broad Institute in CRISPR Dispute

February 24, 2017—The US Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board Feb. 15 ruled that patents on the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 held by the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University do not overlap or “interfere” with University of California (UC) Berkeley patent claims.

UC Berkeley investigators had filed separate patent applications, asserting they had invented the CRISPR technology first, based on their investigations of a naturally functioning immune defense in bacteria. However, the trial board determined that the Broad Institute had effectively developed inventions that are separate and distinct from those claimed by UC Berkeley because the institute had determined how to make CRISPR work in the eukaryotic cells of plants and animals.

The decision allows UC to obtain separate patents on its work, but Berkley did not succeed in persuading the board to invalidate the Broad Institute patents. UC Attorneys have not said whether the university will appeal.


Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488


On the Agenda

Feb. 28: President Trump Delivers Address to Joint Session on Congress
9 p.m.; House Chamber, Washington D.C.
President Trump will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress.


Feb. 28: National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities Meeting
8 a.m.; 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Md.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NACHMD) will meet to provide an NIH health disparities update and more.


March 1: House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing on Health Care Coverage Legislation
10 a.m.; 2175 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing to review several proposals to improve health care coverage.


March 1: House L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Members’ Day Hearing
10 a.m.; 2358-B Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
The House L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a "Members’ Day” hearing.


March 2: House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on FDA Generic Drugs and Biosimilars
10 a.m.; 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) generic drug and biosimilar user fee programs

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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Program & Policy Specialist, Govt Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806