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Monthly Briefing

Monthly Briefing

October 2016 Monthly Briefing

The Bottom Line:

  • On September 28 Congress cleared a short term Continuing Resolution to keep the government operation through December 9. The bill also contained $1.1 billion in Zika funding.
  • ASPPH shares its policy priorities with the presidential candidates.
  • Department of Education issues proposed rule on State Authorization of distance education.

What's New

Continuing Resolution and Zika Funding Clears Congress; Government Shutdown Averted (For Now)

Congress on September 28 cleared a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running after the October 1 start of the new fiscal year (FY 2017). The President signed the measure on September 29.  The bill keeps Federal agencies functioning until Friday, December 9. The measure also includes $1.1 billion in Zika-related funding and $500 million in emergency disaster aid, mostly for the flooding in Louisiana. The bill does not include funding to address the Flint water crisis, but a separate agreement makes such funding a high priority in the lame duck session following the November 8 election. Following passage of the CR, both chambers adjourned until the lame duck session. The date for the start of the lame duck session has been tentatively been set for November 11.

Details on the CR: The Continuing Resolution (H.R. 5325) was approved on September 28th by the House (by a vote of 342-85) and the Senate (by a vote of 72-26). The CR applies a small (0.496 percent) cut to all accounts to maintain the earlier budget agreement levels. Some spending changes are included to adjust for known future expenses (for example, for the inauguration), statutory changes (for example, for the recent changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act), and other minor adjustments. None of the so called “anomalies” impact programs of importance to ASPPH. The bill does include $37 million in new spending to implement some of the new opioid abuse initiatives enacted earlier this year. However, the rate that the new funding could be expended is limited. The CR does not cover the agencies covered by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. That funding bill, which had earlier been agreed to but held up due to the Zika funding dispute, was included as a separate title in the CR bill, to allow it to be enacted. It ends up being the only one of the 12 regular appropriations bills to be enacted before the start of the fiscal year.

Details on the Zika Funding: The Zika funding provisions in the bill, which were included as a separate section, total just over $1.1 billion. Gone are poison pills that might impact Planned Parenthood and waive Clean Water Act regulations related to some pesticides. Also gone are most of the funding offsets. The spending includes:

ASPPH Shares Policy Priorities with Presidential Candidates

On September 1, ASPPH released a new white paper, Academic Public Health’s Priorities For America, to the Presidential transition teams. The document focuses on advancing public health education, science, and practice as the basis of improving population health. ASPPH calls on the new Administration to make public health a national priority and advance the research, training, and action necessary to protect and promote health for all our citizens.

The 12-page set of priorities that the Association asks the Presidential candidates to endorse begins by listing a set of prospective accomplishments that the elected President could announce in their second inaugural address and at the end of the 45th President’s first term. The Association asserts that the President can cite all of these proposed accomplishments “by supporting strategic investments that strengthen the Nation’s public health infrastructure and global health security, advance prevention science research, train the next generation, and establish policies and systems built on evidence of what supports the best health and that advances a culture of health.”

The Association’s white paper was written by the ASPPH Legislative Committee, under the leadership of Dr. Howard Frumkin. Input from deans and primary representatives was included in the final document following extensive discussion at the Association’s Leadership Retreat in July. The final white paper was approved by the ASPPH Board. The paper offers four overarching policy priorities and scores of more specific policy recommendations. The four overarching priorities are:

Priority One:

Ensure every American has the opportunity for a healthy life through initiatives that promote health, including mental health, and that:

Priority Two:

Priority Three:

Increase investment in public health research by:

Priority Four:

The Association plans to release specific funding recommendations related to the recommendations contained in the white paper following the election and when the fiscal year 2017 appropriations levels are finalized.

ASPPH Endorses Cancer Moon Shot Blue Ribbon Panel Report; Highlights Prevention Investment Recommendations

The report of the Cancer Moonshot’s Blue Ribbon Panel was released on September 7. The report highlights research focus areas to help guide the Moon Shot initiative, which aims to accomplish 10 years’ worth of progress fighting cancer in half that time. One section of the report makes recommendations related to cancer prevention and early detection. The recommendations were accepted by the National Cancer Advisory Board, the NCI, and NIH and passed along to the Vice President and the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Several knowledgeable experts in public health and prevention served on the NCI’s Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel, and additional, stellar individuals from ASPPH member schools and programs served on the committees that drafted the Panel’s recommendations.

In a letter to Vice President Biden on September 8, ASPPH Chair Dr. Gary Raskob wrote, “ASPPH strongly endorses the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel. In particular, we commend to your attention the recommendations on Prevention and Early Detection: Implementation of Evidence-Based Approaches.” Dr. Raskob also said that the Association was “gratified that the Panel noted, ‘Importantly, primary prevention is ripe for enabling by Cancer Moonshot funds, which can be used to learn how to better implement interventions that we know are effective at reducing cancer risk in the first place.’”

The summary of the prevention and early detection section from the report’s executive summary is:

“Prevention and early detection: implementation of evidence-based approaches. Conduct implementation science research to accelerate development, testing, and broader adoption of proven cancer strategies to significantly reduce cancer risk and health care disparities. Research should focus on identifying effective, sustainable strategies that involve individuals, families, and caregivers; health care providers and systems; and the greater community. High-priority areas for which much is known about effective prevention and screening modalities are HPV vaccination, colorectal cancer screening, tobacco control, and identification of individuals with genetic predisposition to cancer, both in the general population and among medically underserved groups.”

Funding for the Moon Shot is uncertain. However, even if Congress doesn’t provide specific additional funding for the Moon Shot initiatives, the report is likely to influence NCI’s research portfolio going forward. The Blue Ribbon Panel also identified policy recommendations that were not included as part of the report, but are being forwarded to the Vice President and his task force separately. In his letter to Vice President Biden, Dr. Raskob said, “The ASPPH strongly advocates for integrating cancer prevention and health promotion into all policies, in sectors such as housing, transportation, environmental protection and agriculture. To the extent that the Panel’s policy recommendations advance prevention and public health, we hope that you and your colleagues also will give them serious consideration.”

The White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force is expected to issue a set of policy recommendations in October and a final set of policy and research recommendations at the end of the year. Vice President Biden may also issue a separate report.

 

Department of Education Issues Proposed Rule on State Authorization of Distance Education

The Department of Education published in the July 25 Federal Register (81 FR 48597) a proposed rule concerning state authorization of distance postsecondary education programs. The proposed rule also mandates various institutional disclosures on such programs. The proposal recognizes state authorization reciprocity agreements, “as long as the agreement does not prevent a state from enforcing its own consumer laws.” Comments were accepted on the proposed rule until August 24th.

The federal Higher Education Act requires institutions of higher education to obtain approval from states in which they provide postsecondary educational programs. Compliance with the Act is required in order to qualify for various federally sponsored programs, including all federal financial aid programs. Last year, revised regulations concerning state authorization related to programs with a physical presence went into effect. Those regulations did not cover state authorization for distance education programs or foreign branch campuses. This proposed rule seeks to address both of those gaps.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), administered by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, currently establishes standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. As of July 2016, 40 states and the District of Columbia participate in the SARA program. However, there are several large states not yet participating in SARA, including California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Participation in SARA is a state-level decision. Institutions can only participate in SARA if their state formally decides to participate in the program.

The proposed rule would:

About 120 unique comments were submitted to the Dept. of Education by the comment deadline. Some of the key issues raised in the comments include:

The Department of Education says it hopes to issue a final rule by the end of the year.

Previous Month's Briefings

July 2016 Monthly Briefing

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees have approved differing version of the fiscal year 2017 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Most of ASPPH’s legislative priorities fared well, with key program accounts funded at the same level as in FY 2016.The bill is not expected to be considered by the full House or Senate. Instead, a continuing resolution will likely be enacted to fund the covered agencies until a lame duck session after the November elections. Supplemental funding to address the Zika crisis did not clear Congress before it adjourned for the summer. The Blue Ribbon Committee created to inform the Cancer Moonshot is scheduled to report in August.

Read more

June 2016 Monthly Briefing

The Senate Appropriations Committee on June 9 approved its version of the fiscal year 2017 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Most of ASPPH’s legislative priorities fared well, with key program accounts funded at the same level as in FY 2016. The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to consider its version of the bill in late June. The bill is not expected to be considered by the full House or Senate. Instead, a continuing resolution will likely be enacted to fund the covered agencies until a lame duck session after the November elections.

Read more

February 2016 Monthly Briefing

On February 9, President Obama released the final budget proposal of his presidency. It would provide funding for fiscal year 2017, which begins on October 1, 2016. Few expect Congress to enact regular appropriations measures before the November 8 elections, with one or more continuing resolutions needed until a post-election final bill is enacted. Many of the President’s proposed initiatives and increases would come from “mandatory spending” – spending not subject to appropriations and thus not included in the discretionary spending caps that were included in the October budget agreement.

Read more
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