October 18, 2013

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AACP Advocacy Updates and Alerts

October 18, 2013 

United States Congress

Back to work and able to pay our debts: The last week in Washington has been a whirlwind of false starts, missed opportunities, machinations, gnashing of teeth, political hyperbole and then last minute acquiescence. There are plenty of places to read about the political intrigue, but as of Wednesday night the President signed the Continuing Appropriations Act (HR 2775). This legislation:

  • Funds federal agencies at levels established in FY13 legislation (See AACP advocacy web pages FY13 appropriations) through Jan. 15, 2014; 
  • Allows federal employees to return to work as early as Thursday;
  • Authorizes an increase in the federal debt limit so the United States can pay its debts through Feb. 7, 2014; Takes the debt ceiling out of play through Feb. 7th. Unless Congress passes legislation disagreeing with any future increase of the debt limit by the President, the increase requested by the President stands.
  • Improves income verification procedures establishing eligibility of individuals for tax credits related to health insurance costs authorized under the Affordable Care Act.

Budget conference is ON!: Initially included then excluded from the Continuing Appropriations Act was a provision establishing a conference committee on a congressional budget. The House (HCR 25) and Senate (SCR 8) have passed their respective budgets, but negotiated differences- referred to as a conference- has not occurred. As a way to integrate discussion of larger policy issues regarding deficit reduction-that many believed were ignored or inappropriate for consideration during the continuing resolution debate- into possible congressional action, House and Senate leadership supported moving to conference on the budget resolutions. The conference is to be completed by Dec. 13, 2013.

Members of the House and Senate conference committees have been appointed and the committee met on Thursday. Prior to the Thursday convening, Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-OH) released a joint statement of their intent to restore regular order to the budget process. The time frame, gap between House and Senate budget resolution funding amounts- discretionary funding $967 billion vs. $1.058 trillion respectively-will make any consensus difficult to reach. The search for a “grand bargain” has eluded congress to date.


Federal financial aid update: The U.S. Department of Education published a dear colleague letter on Oct. 11, 2013 that provides updated information on federal student loan programs impacted by the across the board funding reduction known as the sequester. The letter includes information about changes to the loan origination amounts for loans disbursed on or after Dec. 1, 2013. The new fees are 1.051 percent for Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans and 4.204 percent for Direct PLUS Loans. 

Fisher decision: Abigail Fisher, denied admission to the University of Texas, sued the University and eventually had her case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Fisher alleged her denial of admission was because of the University of Texas’s admission policy- that included a race-based preference- discriminated against her. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to the Fifth Court of Appeals asking it to pay greater attention to the strict scrutiny principles. While Fifth Circuit action remains incomplete, the Fisher case does clarify that institutions of higher education can use race as a means of ensuring a diverse student body.

Of course this deference is not without interpretation across the legal and education community. The College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative makes a document available that may help guide institutions of higher education interested in the continued use of race-based admissions policies to ensure a diverse student body. That guidance is presented in "Understanding Fisher v. the University of Texas: Policy Implications of What the U.S. Supreme Court Did (and Didn’t) Say About Diversity and the Use of Race and Ethnicity in College Admissions."

During a Webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, regarding the Fisher case, sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), panel members encouraged institutions of higher education to consider their admission policies in a holistic context and that policy and procedures should be unified across the institute.

New Grant Opportunities

New PCORI grant opportunity: Small groups in 13 western states will be able to submit proposals for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s (PCORI) new "Pipeline to Proposal" awards. These $15,000 awards provide seed-money awards to encourage this small group to discuss and develop research ideas. Additional information, including the eligible states, about this PCORI pilot project is included in a recent blog post.

New Publications

New prevention program information: The Trust for Americas Health (TFAH) has published a new report that includes over 70 evidence-based community prevention programs that address a number of health issues. The report, A Compendium of Proven Community-Based Prevention Programs, was prepared by TFAH in partnership with New York Academy of Medicine. The report includes an extensive literature review for each of the community-based prevention programs.

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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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