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Second Opinion

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

AAMC-led Coalition Urges Title VII and Title VIII Funding Increases

October 21, 2016—The AAMC joined more than 50 national organizations representing schools, programs, health professionals, and students in an Oct. 14 letter  to House and Senate Appropriations Committees leaders. The letter urges appropriators to provide, at a minimum, the fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding levels for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce development programs, including the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), in the final FY 2017 Labor-HHS appropriations bill.

The letter, organized by the AAMC-convened Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC), urges the House and Senate to provide FY 2016 funding levels for the HCOP program. Both the House and Senate proposed eliminating HCOP 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.”

Signatories to the HPNEC letter expressed appreciation to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee for proposing to shift the Behavioral Health Workforce and Education Training (BHWET) Program from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to HRSA, which HPNEC recommended to appropriators earlier this year [see Washington Highlights, April 22]. The letter adds, “[S]hifting these funds, and not at the expense of other Title VII and Title VIII programs, to HRSA will better align the other mental and behavioral health programs that operate under Title VII authority.”

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.”


Clayton Crabtree
Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-739-2995


AAMC Among Organizations Expressing Support for HRSA

October 21, 2016The AAMC Oct. 18 joined 74 other organizations on a letter urging House  and Senate  appropriators to restore the cuts proposed in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee spending bills [see Washington Highlights, July 15] and provide $7.48 billion for discretionary Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs.

The Friends of HRSA request of $7.48 billion would return HRSA’s discretionary budget authority to the fiscal year (FY) 2010 level.

The community letter urges committee leaders to “restore the funding cuts to the HRSA programs that were included in the bills passed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee,” including the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP). The letter adds that HRSA “administers programs that focus on improving care for millions of Americans, who are medically underserved or face barriers to needed care, by strengthening the health workforce and increasing access to quality health services.”


Clayton Crabtree
Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-739-2995



Vice President Biden Delivers Cancer Moonshot Task Force Report

October 21, 2016—Vice President Biden Oct. 17 delivered an Executive Report on the status of the Cancer Moonshot to President Obama, which reviews progress during the first year of the initiative and lays out a roadmap for the next five years.

This information was presented in detail in a report from the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, an interagency group chaired by the Vice President. The Task Force identified five strategic goals for the Moonshot: catalyze new scientific breakthroughs, unleash the power of data, accelerate bringing new therapies to patients, strengthen prevention and diagnosis, and improve patient access and care.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute this week also released a final version of the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations, which detail 10 scientific approaches to speed advancements in cancer research [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 9].

The Task Force report notes in conclusion that the Cancer Moonshot effort “isn’t about scientific research or technology development; it isn’t about computational power or capability; it isn’t about health care records management…(it) is about the entire cancer ecosystem working together to use our resources and tools intelligently and aggressively to catalyze improvements in care and our understanding of cancer.”


Anurupa Dev, Ph.D.
Senior Science Policy Analyst
Telephone: 202-862-6048


National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Socioeconomic Status in Medicare Payment Programs

October 21, 2016—The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) October 11 released the fourth in a series of five reports focused on accounting for socio risk factors in Medicare payments [see Washington Highlights, July 15]. In this report, the NAS recommends either existing or new sources of data on socioeconomic (SES) factors, highlights strategies for collecting this data, and identifies challenges to obtaining appropriate data. The reports are mandated by Congress as part of Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act, P.L. 113-185).

This report reviews data sources and data collection strategies to account for social risk factors in Medicare’s value based payment program. The report highlights three categories of data sources and provides recommendations to address challenges in collecting this information:

  • New and existing data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS);

  • Data from health care providers and health plans; and

  • Alternative government data sources, including national surveys that non-CMS federal agencies and state agencies oversee and maintain.

CMS currently does not adjust Medicare performance programs to account for social risk factors. Providers have long expressed concerns that not accounting for these factors may disproportionately disadvantage those institutions that serve vulnerable patient populations. 

Previous NAS reports focused on defining SES, identifying SES factors that impact health outcomes, and identifying best practices of high-performing providers and health plans that disproportionately serve disadvantaged patient populations. The final report, expected in early 2017, will synthesize all of the reports and will include additional recommendations.


Scott Wetzel, M.P.P.
Senior Specialist, Health Care Affairs
Telephone: 202-828-0495


2016 Joining Forces Wellness Week Webinar Registration Opens

October 21, 2016—The AAMC has joined the White House Joining Forces staff and the Center for Deployment Psychology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to host the fifth annual Joining Forces Wellness Week on November 7-11. The week, which concludes with Veterans Day, will feature a webinar series on topics related to the health and health care of veterans, military service members, and their families.

The academic medicine community has been supporting the efforts of the nation’s military and veterans for 70 years, since the establishment of partnerships between medical schools and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. As part of the Joining Forces Wellness campaign, more than 100 medical schools have pledged to mobilize their integrated missions in education, research, and clinical care to train our nation’s physicians to meet the unique health care needs of the military service members, veterans, and their families.

This year’s webinars focus on topics that include addressing suicide among military service members and veterans, pain management for the military and veteran population, and what veterans want their health care providers to know.


Jared Dashoff
Public Affairs Specialist
Telephone: 202-828-0441


On the Agenda

The House and Senate have adjourned for the campaign season until after the November election. Both chambers will be in session starting Monday, Nov. 14.

Oct. 27: MACPAC Meeting

9:30 a.m.; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) will hold a meeting to discuss Medicaid hospital payments, implications of ACA coverage expansions for Medicaid DSH policy, improving service delivery to Medicaid beneficiaries with mental illness, and more.

Nov. 3: MedPAC Meeting

Time: TBD; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will meet to discuss Medicare issues and policy questions and to develop and approve reports and recommendations to the Congress.

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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.

For More Information

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

Courtney Summers
Senior Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-862-6042