Senate Defeats Effort to Repeal Prevention Fund
An amendment offered on April 22 by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to repeal the $10 billion Prevention Fund and to use part of those funds to reauthorize the $10 million Runaway and Homeless Youth Act failed by a vote of 45-53. Sixty votes were necessary to adopt the amendment under an earlier agreement. ASPPH wrote to key Senators in opposition to the amendment, citing the valuable programs funded by the Prevention Fund. Additional attacks on the Prevention Fund are expected throughout the year.
Congressional Public Health Caucus Formed
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) have announced the formation of a bipartisan Congressional Public Health Caucus in the House of Representatives. The caucus “will serve as a formal group of members whose mission is to raise awareness of the importance of public health issues, and will provide educational opportunities for Members of Congress and their staff.” The leaders and faculty of schools and programs of public health are asked to encourage their local representatives to join and actively participate in the Caucus. ASPPH has been in communication with Reps. Green and Wittman’s offices offering support for the Caucus’ activities.
White House Announces Climate Change-Related Public Health Initiatives, Including a Health Professions Education Coalition
President Obama has announced a number of new climate change initiatives focused on reducing its health impacts. Among the initiatives, the White House announced the formation of “a coalition of Deans from 30 medical, public health, and nursing schools around the country, who are committing to ensure that the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change.” It is not clear how the participating institutions were selected. According to a White House fact sheet, on April 9 White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese hosted a number of deans for a roundtable discussion around climate change and health. The White House also announced it will host a Climate Change and Public Health Summit later this spring, “featuring the Surgeon General, to bring together public health, medical, and other health professionals, academics, and other interested stakeholders to discuss the public health impacts of climate change and identify opportunities to minimize these impacts.”
Climate Change and Public Health Legislation Endorsed
Congresswoman Louise Capps (D-CA) recently introduced H.R. 1275, the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act. The bill would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, working through the CDC, “to publish a National Strategic Action Plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the impacts of climate change on public health.” The bill would also require the Institute of Medicine to issue a report assessing domestic and international climate change and public health needs, and recommend programs to address those needs. ASPPH has joined several other public health leadership organizations in endorsing the bill.
Coalitions Announce FY 2016 Funding Requests
Key coalitions recently issued their fiscal year 2016 funding recommendations for agencies of interest to ASPPH:
- The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) joined dozens of other groups in writing to key Congressional leaders urging that Congress approve a $7.8 billion budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2016. The recommendation represents a 13.5% increase over the FY 2015 level and $790 million over the Administration’s request. The letter was organized by the CDC Coalition, of which ASPPH is a member. APHA serves as the Coalition’s secretariat.
- ASPPH also joined a letter to Hill leaders organized by the Friends of AHRQ calling for $375 million in budget authority in fiscal year 2016 for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The agency is also funded through evaluation transfers and from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research trust fund. AcademyHealth serves as the Friends of AHRQ’s secretariat.
- ASPPH has endorsed the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research that the FY 2016 appropriation for the National Institutes of Health be at least $32 billion. A letter transmitting the recommendation to key Congressional appropriators was sent on April 3. The recommendation represents a 5.65% increase over the FY 2015 level and $689 million over the Administration’s request. The AAMC serves as the secretariat for the Ad Hoc Group.
NIH Seeks Input on Sustainability Strategies
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has posted a Request for Information (RFI) “to solicit input regarding the possible development of new policies and other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of the NIH-funded biomedical research enterprise.” The NIH said it “is especially interested in identifying strategies that will: a) maximize the productivity and creativity of the biomedical research workforce it funds, and b) ensure funding for a broad and diverse group of investigators studying a wide range of important questions.” NIH is inviting comments in the following areas:
- Key issues that currently limit the impact of NIH’s funding for biomedical research and challenge the sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise.
- Ideas about adjusting current funding policies to ensure both continued impact and sustainability of the NIH-supported research enterprise.
- Ideas for new policies, strategies, and other approaches that would increase the impact and sustainability of NIH-funded biomedical research.
- Other issues that respondents feel are relevant.
Responses will be accepted through May 17, 2015.
Administration Issues Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
The Administration has issued a National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria, “a roadmap to guide the Nation in rising to this challenge.” The plan was developed in response to an Executive Order issued by President Obama in September 18. The plan outlines five goals:
- Slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.
- Strengthen national “one-health” surveillance efforts to combat resistance.
- Advance development and use of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests for identification and characterization of resistant bacteria.
- Accelerate basic and applied research and development for new antibiotics, other therapeutics, and vaccines.
- Improve international collaboration and capacities for antibiotic-resistance prevention, surveillance, control, and antibiotic research and development.
Separately, the White House announced the creation of a Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and is soliciting nominations for appointment to the Council membership. Nominations are due by April 30.