May 26, 2015


Higher Education News:

Bipartisan Bill on Wage Data

Newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would enable the linking of student-level enrollment information with data on employment and wages. The bipartisan bill would provide post-graduate earnings averages at both the institutional and academic program levels, wrote Amy Laitinen, deputy director of New America's higher education program. It would make public these and other performance data about higher education by overturning the ban on a federal "student unit record" system and freeing up existing, but currently unavailable information. (Inside Higher Ed - May 26, 2015)

House, Senate Bills Address Foreign Medical School Access to Federal Student Loans

Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., joined Representatives Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Michael Burgess, M.D., R-Texas, May 19 in introducing the Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act (S. 1374, H.R. 2417). The legislation is the same bill introduced by Senator Durbin in the 113th Congress. The measure would eliminate a grandfathered exemption of certain foreign medical schools from current Department of Education requirements for federal student loans. (Association of American Medical Colleges - May 22, 2015)

Democratic Bill on Pell for Prisoners

A group of six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday introduced legislation that would reinstate Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated college students. Congress in 1994 banned the use of Pell Grants by prisoners in state and federal prisons. However, the U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce a limited waiver of the ban under the experimental sites program, sources have said. If that experiment is successful, it could help advocates make the case that Congress should drop the ban. (Inside Higher Ed - May 22, 2015)

Research News:

AAU Submits Comments to NIH on Sustainability of the Biomedical Workforce

The Association of American Universities (AAU) on May 17 submitted comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the agency's request for information on the sustainability of the biomedical workforce and the future of biomedical research. The AAU comments expressed concern about the regulatory burden imposed on researchers and universities that receive NIH funding. As an example, the letter pointed out that principal investigators (PIs) are taking scores of hours in total to comply with the new requirement for a PI's biographical data (bio sketch), for uncertain gains in terms of collecting useful information. The comments also pointed out that the NIH institutional review board regulations are duplicative and that the multi-site IRB requirements are slowing down research. In addition, AAU remains concerned about the scarcity of funding for new investigators, the resulting lengthening of time until investigators receive their first research award, and the harm this is doing to those individuals' careers. (Association of American Universities - May 22, 2015)

AAMC Comments to NIH on Strategies to Improve the Sustainability of Biomedical Research

The [Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) on] May 17 submitted a comment letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to a Request for Information on optimizing funding policies and other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of biomedical research. The letter emphasizes the need for reliable, predictable, long-term funding to sustain progress in biomedical research. AAMC also recommends that NIH and the research community oppose any formulation of policies that would increase levels of federal research activity by shifting costs onto institutions or other partners, such as through caps or arbitrary adjustments. (Association of American Medical Colleges - May 22, 2015)

House Spending Panel Does its Best to Hide Large Cut to NSF Social and Geosciences Research

A congressional spending panel has proposed a 16% cut in funding next year for the social and geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). But you'll need a magnifying glass and a calculator to come up with that number. The reduction is buried in a report that accompanies a $51 billion spending bill for 2016 covering numerous federal agencies that was approved Wednesday by the appropriations committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. (ScienceInsider - May 22, 2015)

NASA Invites Universities to Submit Innovative Early-Stage Technology Proposals

NASA is seeking proposals from universities for early stage technology development that will support the agency's long-term plans for human exploration of Mars and scientific study of our solar system and beyond. The Early Stage Innovations NASA Research Announcement calls for innovative space technology proposals that could benefit NASA's space program, other government agencies and the greater aerospace community. (NASA - May 21, 2015)

Health News:

Senate Special Aging Committee Hearing On Observation Status

The Senate Special Committee on Aging May 20 held a hearing titled, "Challenging the Status Quo: Solutions to the Hospital Observation Stay Crisis," focused on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) "two-midnight" rule, which determines how short hospital inpatient stays are paid under Medicare. In his testimony, [CMS Administrator and Director Sean Cavanaugh]  noted that CMS is currently reviewing stakeholder feedback, as well as recent MedPAC recommendations, related to the two-midnight rule, and expects to include further dialogue in the upcoming 2016 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule. (Association of American Medical Colleges - May 22, 2015)

Summit to Examine Physician Concerns About Bundled Payments

Providers and policymakers will explore implementation strategies for bundled-payment models and address physician concerns about the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS)] bundled-payment experiments at the Fifth National Bundled Payment Summit in Washington. The summit, June 3-5, will feature Rahul Rajkumar, acting deputy director of the CMS Innovation Center. He will provide an update on Medicare's Bundled Payment for Care Improvement initiative. (Modern Healthcare - May 23, 2015)

2016 Presidential Campaign:

Student Debt Is Hot Topic for 2016 Field

The rise in college costs -- and student-loan burdens -- is breaking through as a hot issue in the 2016 presidential race as contenders float proposals that rethink what college should cost and who should foot the bill. (Wall Street Journal - May 21, 2015)

Items of Note:


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