1. From the Executive Director's Office
Happy Holidays to you all! I hope you have a happy holiday season and my best wishes for a healthy and productive 2014!
Just a few items this week, as I know many of you are on break. We'll get back to the regular updates the week of 1/6/14.
Washington, D.C. Update
NAO Public Policy leaders had a positive and productive call with the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday December 19th where we:
-Discussed the importance of the AHEC Program being included in President Obama's FY15 Budget
-Highlighted NAO's ATrACC contract with HRSA on the Health Insurance Exchanges education initiative nationwide
-Provided justification for the need for an increased number of health professionals especially in underserved and rural/frontier areas
-Highlighted the ways AHEC is unique and brings value to all corners of the country regarding the recruitment, retention and continuing education of a primary care workforce
-Provided a brief funding history highlighting the Senate's support for the program and made the strong case for continued funding to maintain our important work
NAO Policy leaders on the call were myself, NAO president John Blossom and policy committee members Andy Fosmire, Kathy Vasquez, Michael French and Angela Holloway. According to Dr. Blossom "if AHEC is in the president's budget in FY 2015 it will be because of this call; if not, it will be in spite of it". We will follow up with OMB with in-person visits in late winter or early spring. We will keep you posted, and please let me know if you have any questions.
This week, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and the bill was sent to the President, who is expected to sign the measure. The Budget Act sets top-line federal discretionary spending levels for fiscal year (FY) 2014 and FY 2015. The legislation also effectively cancels the FY14 sequester cut for health and education programs, and restores a portion of the 5% sequester cut that health and education programs received in FY 2013. The increase in the FY 2014 spending cap presents the opportunity for appropriators to restore some of the cuts to research, public health, and training programs.
The overall FY 2014 federal spending level is set at $1.012 trillion; half-way between the proposed House level of $967 billion and the proposed Senate level of $1.058 trillion. In order to secure the funding necessary to eliminate sequestration and increase the spending levels, Republicans did not raise taxes and Democrats did not reform entitlements. Instead, savings were achieved by raising certain federal fees, authorizing future cuts to Medicare fees, and accounting for new revenue from oil drilling projects.
With the spending limits established, congressional appropriators are now working to finalize the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund nearly all federal programs. Popular bills such as those for defense and veterans may pass as freestanding measures (or rolled into an omnibus). More challenging bills, like health, education, and the environment, could end up as continuing resolutions with minor adjustments--also rolled into a big package.
The budget deal continues the overall 2% sequestration of Medicare reimbursement for FY 2014. Legislators tacked on temporary provisions preventing a 20.1% reduction in Medicare physician payments under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The SGR provision provides a 0.5% update to current physician reimbursement rates through the end of March 2014. Lawmakers hope the three-month extension will provide time to pass a permanent doc-fix in the new year. The package also delays for two years Medicaid cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH).
Congress will now work to pass its 12 appropriations bills. There was discussion last week that a Defense and possibly Mil-Con/VA appropriations bill will be introduced and passed, but that the other appropriations bills will be lumped into an omnibus bill for a continuing resolution. There is a potential for slight increases for programs despite a continuing resolution.
It will be important to weigh in with legislators after the break and fight to get good language in the L-HHS appropriations bill as well as recommend the Senate's $30.025 million allocation. HMCW will be crafting an Action Alert to disseminate to NAO after the new year. The next thing to monitor after appropriations will be the President's budget request for FY 2015.
Senator Sherrod Brown's (Ohio) comments on the value and importance of the AHEC program!
"This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)'s Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce programs. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would like to thank the HRSA programs for all the work they have done to help train Ohio's health care workforce, and congratulate them on their 50th anniversary.
In 1963, Congress passed the Health Professions Education Assistance Act, which created Title VII programs. In 1964, the Nurse Training Act created the Title VIII nursing workforce programs. Today, Title VII and Title VIII are the only federal programs designed to train primary care providers in interdisciplinary, community-based settings to meet the needs of the country's underserved populations, increase minority representation in the health care workforce, and fill gaps in the supply of health professionals not met by traditional market forces.
More than 192 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of health professionals. Almost 77 percent of the rural counties in the U.S., including Ohio, suffer from a primary care health professional shortage. HRSA works to help mitigate such shortages by providing primary care education and training opportunities for providers in these communities. Ohio receives more than $11 million in federal funding for its health professions and nursing education; nearly five million of these funds are in Title VII grants, while the remaining six million represent Title VIII grants.
The University of Toledo Area Health Education Center (UT AHEC) represents one of the Title VII health care workforce development programs in Ohio. The AHEC program develops health education programs for UT's medical students and local health care professionals, young students, and the wider community. Three regional centers are associated with UT's program, and each offers a variety of programs in health care career education, community health education, continuing medical education, clinical education, and health manpower.
As we reflect on this milestone celebrating five decades of health professions education and training through Title VII and VIII programs, we applaud their ability to adapt to the nation's changing health care needs, as well as their ability to advance curricular innovations on timely priorities, such as mental and behavioral health issues, geriatrics training, and cultural competency. It is important for Congress to continue to recognize the importance of investing in these critical workforce programs or the next fifty years and beyond.
Enjoy the break!
2. From A-TrACC
Did you miss the first marketplace orientation webinar? No worries! Listened to the first one but want to listen again? No worries! There's another Marketplace Project Orientation session coming up. Marketplace Project Orientation, Session B led by the A-TrACC team. This webinar will orient AHEC staff to the project and how to participate. Financial support of $1,500 is available for your center in exchange for providing training for at least 50 health care providers and/or staff. This project may fit in with training AHECs are already providing on the health insurance marketplaces. Session B contains the same content as the first orientation session Dec. 17.
Orientation Session B Webinar 405T-B. Tuesday, Jan. 7, 3-4 pm Eastern. Register
Join those who have already signed up to participate in this year's project. For questions or to request an application, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Evaluation Webinar
The A-TrACC team is planning a presentation titled Program Evaluation - Capturing Great Student Stories for the last week in January. Check your inbox and Monday Update for further notice.
Revised Field Guide Available Online
The most current version of the A-TrACC Field Guide that was shared in webinars in November/December is now available on the A-TrACC website. Click here to download either a Word or PDF file. Email email@example.com for copies of the Excel spreadsheets shared in those webinars as well.
3. Take Note: NAO Conference Takes Place July 7-11, 2014
Exciting and historic Charlotte is the setting for this must-attend NAO event. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more info as it becomes available. We look forward to seeing you there!
4. Online Call for Presentations
Proposals are to be submitted online this year. Please read all of the directions carefully to ensure that all submission requirements are met.
Please click on the following link to access the online submission system: http://www.nationalahec.org/conferenceSubmission.taf.
Note: The due date for final submissions is Monday, January 20, 2014.
5. CME Dinner Meetings on the Topic of Asthma
Asthma: What Are We Missing?
Register now for live CME/CE meetings that focus on the regional and local factors that can impact practitioners’ abilities to attain and maintain control in their patients with asthma. The program will discuss contemporary strategies to manage the most difficult-to-treat forms of asthma, and will focus on suboptimally controlled and severe asthma. Meetings are being held in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Atlanta in early 2014.
Click on the following link for more info.: http://www.quintilesmeded.com/AsthmaGEOAPPS/
Click here for details.
Mission Statement: Our vision is that the AHEC network is the national leader in developing a highly competent and diverse health care workforce for underserved populations.
To submit an item, please click here. Deadline: Thursdays, noon CST.