Nov. 30, 2015


Higher Education News:

U.S. to Argue in Affirmative Action Case at Supreme Court

The United States will argue before the Supreme Court this term in support of a Texas university's affirmative action admissions process and Arizona's redistricting plan. The justices on Tuesday agreed to give the Obama administration time during oral arguments Dec. 9 in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case challenging the constitutionality of the university's policy that includes accepting undergraduate students based on racial preferences. The case, Docket No. 14-981, is being closely watched by higher education, civil liberties groups and law groups, which have filed amicus briefs in the case. (CQ News - Nov. 24, 2015)

Another Department Departure

Jamienne S. Studley, who with Under Secretary Ted Mitchell engineered the Obama administration's surprisingly ambitious second-term higher education agenda, will leave her job this month, the department said Tuesday. Studley said she was resigning because she had grown weary of living bicoastally and will return to the Bay Area, where her husband has remained during her two and a half years at the Education Department. Her decision comes six weeks after Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he would resign . . . (Inside Higher Ed - Nov. 25, 2015)

Reversal on Recruiter Bonus Pay

After two lawsuits by for-profit colleges, the Obama administration is backing down from its ban on colleges paying recruiters bonuses based on graduation rates. The Education Department formally announced Friday that it had reconsidered its position and will no longer prohibit colleges from paying commissions to recruiters that are tied to students' graduation or completion rates. (Inside Higher Ed - Nov. 30, 2015)

Research News:

Secretary Moniz Awards $125 Million for 41 Transformational Energy Technology Projects Ahead of COP21 in Paris

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today announced $125 million across 41 cutting-edge energy technologies awarded by the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). These new projects are funded under ARPA-E's OPEN 2015 program and come in advance of the COP21 U.N. Climate Negotiations in Paris next week. The announcement was made at D.C. technology incubator 1776 at an event that focused on leveraging America's top innovators to find technological solutions to combat climate change, enhance security and solve pressing energy challenges around the globe. [Vanderbilt University received one of the awards.] (U.S. Department of Energy - Nov. 23, 2015)

Standoff Over Government Climate Study Provokes National Uproar by Scientists

A top House lawmaker's confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom. On Tuesday, seven scientific organizations representing hundreds of thousands of scientists sent an unsparing letter to [Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology] warning that his efforts are "establishing a practice of inquests" that will have a chilling effect. (Washington Post - Nov. 24, 2015)

Health News:

AHA Urges CMS to Delay Implementation of Lab Payment Rule, Collect More Data

The [American Hospital Association (AHA)] today urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase the number of hospital-based and physician office laboratories that qualify as applicable laboratories under its proposed rule for the new Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule to ensure its rates are representative of overall market rates. AHA also urged CMS to delay implementation of the new payment system until at least 2018 to allow the agency more time to issue guidance on data collection and reporting and engage in end-to-end testing. (American Hospital Association - Nov. 24, 2015)

FDA Crowdsourcing its Way to Precision Medicine. But What About Security?

[A] team at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a crowdsourced platform to provide a digital environment for members of the genomics community to work together. PrecisionFDA is a cloud-based research and development portal designed to allow researchers to analyze genome data and run comparisons against reference material, such as sample data widely accepted. But . . . the question of securing a platform containing piles of genome data that anyone could potentially access by simply applying for an account is an important one. (Nextgov - Nov. 25, 2015)

Congress Weighs Expanding Payments to Psychiatric Hospitals

Congress is weighing whether to allow psychiatric hospitals to bill Medicaid for up to 20 days of care each month for adult patients, signaling a potential shift in lawmakers' views about institutionalizing people with serious mental illnesses. The plan, outlined in a broad bill (HR 2646) to overhaul the mental health system, would loosen restrictions that have prevented the federal-state health insurance program throughout its entire 50-year existence from paying such facilities for most services. [T]he proposal is reviving a long-running debate over whether treatment should be administered in the community or in institutions. (CQ News - Nov. 30, 2015)

Other News:

White House Asks High Court to Hear Immigration Case This Term

Government attorneys late Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to decide the case over President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions by the end of this term in June. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. sent a letter Tuesday to the Supreme Court seeking a quick court schedule for the case, which could determine if Obama gets to implement the November 2014 policy changes before he leaves office. Obama's actions could affect millions of undocumented immigrants. (CQ News - Nov. 24, 2015)

Getting a Drone for Christmas? You'll Have to Register with FAA Eventually

With the holidays round the corner, as many as 1 million people could receive drones as gifts. In a bid to mitigate any potential disasters, the U.S. government wants to have drone owners register their drones, and asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make recommendations on how to implement a registration system. The FAA announced its recommendations Nov. 23rd, on how it, and a group of lawyers and businesses with interests in the drone industry, believes the U.S. should handle the registration of drones. (Nextgov - Nov. 24, 2015)

Items of Note:


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