November 15, 2013

AACP Policy Framework
AACP Issue Briefs
Advocacy Sign On Letters
Budget and Appropriations Tables
Letters to Congress and the Administration
Academic Pharmacy Now - Capitol Hill News
AACP Advocacy Updates and Alerts

November 15, 2013 

Need to know more about the sequester impact?: The NDD United, a group of organizations concerned with the negative impact on our nation’s education, health and employment has published a new report. Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure is full of information demonstrating that the indiscriminate, across the board cuts, are having a real impact on the well-being of individual Americans and their communities.

The report includes discussion of sequestration on programs important to UT Austin College of Pharmacy faculty member Andrea Gore and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy faculty member Jian Liu. 

The NDD Web site has an interactive map that allows you to see the impact on a state-by-state basis. Want to share the information in the report? The NDD Web page also includes a communications tool-kit to help you share the messages in the report and to craft your own messages to share.

United States Congress

Making IHS loan repayment tax free: Representative David Valadao (CA) has introduced legislation that would benefit recipients of loan repayment through the Indian Health Service. The “Indian Health Service Health Professions Tax Fairness Act of 2013” (HR3391) would eliminate the federal income tax payable by recipients of the IHS loan repayment program. In some instances health professionals are paid an amount that includes the tax payment. This adds additional costs to the already stretched-thin IHS programs. Making the loan repayment tax free would allow that extra money to be used by the IHS to provide direct services, and align the IHS loan repayment program with other federal loan repayment programs such as the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program. AACP is among a number of organizations that have signed-on to letter supporting HR 3391.

Administration

Final Title IV rules: On November 1, 2013 the U.S. Department of Education published in the Federal Register the final rules for the federal student financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. These rules apply to programs including Pell Grants, Perkins, and Stafford. The notice of final publication was provided in a Dear Colleague dated November 1, 2013.

New gainful employment proposal: The U.S. Department of Education has shared a draft of proposed regulations impacting gainful employment regulations with negotiated rulemakers prior to their November 18-20 meeting. The proposal would reestablish gainful employment regulations put on hold by a court decision in 2012. The court determined the department’s 35% threshold for loan repayment rates lacked evidence for its selection. The court did support the department in its overall efforts to determine controls to federal student financial aid programs.

The new proposed regulations would require institutions to provide information regarding the debt to earnings ratios of students in programs subject to gainful employment rules. The proposed regs would also require institutions to provide the default rate for all students in the program as well as the loan repayment performance across the institutions loan portfolio.

According to the Dear Colleague Letter published by the department on April 20, 2011 institutions with programs that lead to the Doctor of Pharmacy as the first-professional-degree and any certificate programs a student successfully completes within the time of their professional education are not subject to the gainful employment rules. The proposed rules would not change this status.

NIH update on grant reviews: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is restating the number of new competitive grants that are likely to be eliminated due to the sequester. Back in June the NIH estimated number to be at least 700, but revised that to 640 in a recent communication dated November 4, 2013.  

In a recent blogpost NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Sally Rockey, wrote that the grant reviews cancelled during shutdown will be rescheduled. This information was shared with the larger research community in an update on November 7, 2013.

With NIH grant funding stagnating and actually losing real value over time, options for maximizing current funding is a discussion among the NIH leadership. One option is to ask the over 2500 universities that submit grant proposals each year to submit fewer grants or to submit grants that are already peer-reviewed within the institution before sending them on to the NIH. Given the fact that the holy grail of the RO1 grant is becoming more and more elusive, state support for higher education decreasing, and the arcane structure of university support through grant funding, what would you suggest to NIH leaders as opportunities to maximize the social benefit of the $30 billion, of which over 80% goes to extramural programs, NIH has to share through the competitive grant funding process?

CMS improves access to data: On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is making it easier for researchers to gain access to its healthcare data. The Virtual Data Research Center will allow researchers to access CMS data through secure systems directly from their individual computers. Currently researchers must submit a data request to CMS for the data. That data is then sent in huge files back to the researchers. The current costly approach will make access to the data less expensive.

New Medication Safety Resources: From the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - 

“Three new online resources funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and developed by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) can help community pharmacies and outpatient settings improve medication safety and protect patients from the adverse effects of medication errors. 

  • High-Alert Medications Consumer Leaflets are patient education checklists developed during a study of the impact of community pharmacies that counseled consumers who picked up prescriptions for certain high-alert medications including warfarin, fentanyl patches, and more.  
  • Assessing Barcode Verification System Readiness in Community Pharmacies is a free tool that helps community pharmacies assess their readiness and prepare for future implementation of a barcode product verification system. 
  • High-Alert Medication Modeling and Error-Reduction Scorecards [HAMMERS™] is a free tool designed to help community pharmacies identify their unique set of system and behavioral risks associated with dispensing certain high-alert medications and use a series of scorecards to estimate how often prescribing and dispensing errors reach patients and how the frequency will change if certain interventions are implemented.

Other Organizations

More on Fisher decision: From the Association of American Medical Colleges -

“Thank you for participating in the AAMC Holistic Review Project October 16th webinar, Making It Real: What the Supreme Court’s Fisher Decision Means for Medical Schools, featuring Heather Alarcon, Art Coleman, and Geoffrey Young. Your active participation and engagement helped make the webinar a success. Access to the recorded webinar can be found here. We encourage you to share this link with key colleagues at your institution who were unable to participate in the live event. You do not have to sign-in to access the recording.”

Resources for public health and IPE: The Healthy People Curriculum Taskforce, supported by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) has developed a resource for assisting health professions faculty to integrate the concepts of clinical prevention and population health into their interprofessional curricula. Advancing Interprofessional Clinical Prevention and Population Health Education: Curriculum Development Guide for Health Professions Faculty provides faculty with a crosswalk between the competencies established by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) and the clinical prevention and population health curriculum created by the Healthy People Curriculum Taskforce.

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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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