August 23, 2013

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AACP Advocacy Updates and Alerts

August 23, 2013 

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

AACP Advocacy Committee opportunities: We are seeking additional participants for the community engagement and the scholarship of engagement workgroups.

Are you an expert in the area of wellness and health promotion, community engagement or the scholarship of engagement? If so, would you like the opportunity to work with your colleagues in developing tools and resources to support the academy’s advocacy around these issues? The AACP Standing Committee will once again make use of expertise of our members through three workgroups each focused on one of the priority areas (wellness and health promotion, community engagement, scholarship of engagement) identified by President Peggy Piascik. Share your expertise by participating in a workgroup by sending an email to Will Lang at AACP that includes your area of interest, a brief description of your expertise, and your contact information. Make sure to get that information sent in before August 31, 2013!

Administration

Sequester for FY14: As AACP members have been reminded, the sequester is not just a one time deal! The continued reduction of federal discretionary funding will continue through 2021 if spending levels established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (PL 112-25) (and further reduced by the American Taxpayer Relief Act - PL 112-240) are exceeded or if Congress does nothing to change existing law.

This week the Office of Management and Budget, as required by the BCA, released "OMB Sequestration Update Report to the President and Congress for Fiscal Year 2014."The report shows how the spending levels set in the BCA have been further reduced through ATRA and definition changes of spending categories. For FY14, BCA established a total discretionary spending cap of $1.066 trillion with $556 billion for defense discretionary and $550 billion for non-defense discretionary (NDD). ATRA and definition changes have further reduced the BCA set total discretionary spending caps to $967.5 billion for FY14. This total is apportioned $498.1 billion for defense discretionary and $469.4 billion for NDD.

While the FY14 appropriations process is not complete, the House has exceeded the FY14 BCA spending cap for defense discretionary by $47.9 billion and the Senate has exceeded both the defense and NDD spending caps by $54.1 billion and $34.4 billion respectively. If either of these appropriations amounts were to become law the respective overages would have to be sequestered, unless Congress acts to eliminate the sequester requirement.

The Pew Charitable Trust recently published an article that describes how the cuts scheduled for FY14 will impact state budgets, many of which have already been developed and are being implemented along a state’s fiscal year. FY14 federal spending is required to be reduced by $4.2 billion from the FY13 level because the final appropriated amounts exceed the spending caps by that amount. The exact impact on individual states is yet to be determined, but states, on average, usually expect 30% of their revenue from the federal government. The Pew article is based on information provided in a report by the Federal Funds Information for States.

President’s plan for higher ed: President is on the road discussing what he sees as a crisis in higher education. This week he outlined and agenda to deal with the lack of access due largely to the cost of pursuing post-secondary education. According to a fact sheet released by the White House this agenda is comprised of three broad areas: Paying for Performance; Promoting Innovation and Competition; and Ensuring that Student Debt Remains Affordable.

Immediately upon the release of the agenda Representative John Kline, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Workforce released a statement expressing both support and concern with the President’s proposal. Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions also released a statement indicating that the President’s proposal is timely in the context of the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

New AHRQ director: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will have a new Director. On August 19, Richard Kronick, Ph.D. was announced as the new AHRQ by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Kronick currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning and Evaluation. Dr. Kronick is a respected researcher in the area of healthcare reform. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the current AHRQ Director is expected to step down from that role at the end of August.

State authorization information: The US Department of Education has provided additional information regarding the requirement that institutions of higher education be authorized to operate in any state that it has a presence. The August 9, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter includes "other actions" that institutions of higher education can pursue to remain compliant with 34 CFR 600.9(a)(1)(i).

While the federal state authorization requirement does not impact internships and externships (because these account for less than 50% of a student’s education) state laws must be complied with. See Dear Colleague Letter DCL 12-13.

Student loan rate information: In the last update we provided the following information about federal student loan interest rates:

On July 31, 2013, the House of Representatives approved legislation amended in the Senate that establishes new interest rates for federal student loans. The "Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013," (HR 1911) will be signed by the President on Friday August 9, 2013. The legislation establishes the following interest rates for federal student loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2013 and authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act:

On August 9, 2013 the Department of Education posted a Dear Colleague Letter that describes the agencies implementation actions in response to the legislation. The DCL also includes a chart of the actual interest rates that will be in effective for disbursements on and after July 1, 2013 and before July 1, 2014.

State impact of ACA: With the roll-out of the health insurance marketplaces the administration and HHS are making sure that Americans understand the benefit of the Affordable Care Act to their state and local communities. HHS has created a searchable United States map that provides information on how the ACA benefits each state.

States continue to lose rural pharmacists: The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis has published six case studies that describe the reasons communities have lost their community pharmacy. The case studies follow a report published by RUPRI on the same subject in January 2013. AACP has sent the case study and report links to the Hill reminding staff of our continued interest in reducing community risk of losing their pharmacists by allowing them to participate in the loan repayment program of the National Health Service Corp.

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Founded in 1900, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is a national organization representing the interests of pharmacy education and educators. Comprising all accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy including more than 6,400 faculty, 57,000 students enrolled in professional programs and 5,700 individuals pursuing graduate study, AACP is committed to excellence in pharmacy education.

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