October 24, 2014


Lawmakers Push for Increased Funding for Biomedical Research

A bipartisan pair of senators is putting together a proposal to significantly increase federal funding for biomedical research, an issue that has taken on greater urgency in light of the Ebola outbreak. Aides to Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, met with industry representatives this week to discuss their plan to boost funding for biomedical research by $1 billion annually over 10 years, according to people familiar with the discussion. (Wall Street Journal - Oct. 23, 2014)

GOP Doctors Caucus Plots Strategy for Lame Duck and Beyond

The next Congress will see a change at the helm of the House GOP Doctors Caucus at a time when Republican health policy could gain traction if the party wins control of the Senate. John Fleming of Louisiana will succeed founding caucus member Phil Gingrey of Georgia . . . Fleming and returning co-chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., will try to ensure adequate training opportunities for medical school graduates and bring in experts to speak to the caucus members as a form of continuing education. Even before the 113th Congress gavels out, the doctors will try to tackle arguably their biggest agenda item and replace Medicare’s physician payment formula, known as the sustainable growth rate, or SGR. (CQ News - Oct. 23, 2014)

3 Senators Urge Education Department to Make Studying Abroad Safer

Three U.S. senators urged the education secretary, Arne Duncan, in a letter on Thursday to provide better safety information to college students who plan to study abroad. The letter -- signed by Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, all Democrats -- recommends, among other things, that the Education Department better advertise the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Links to sign up for the program should be provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and on the department’s website, the senators wrote. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Oct. 23, 2014)

HHS Unveils $840M Initiative to Reform Doctors' Offices

Federal health officials unveiled a new initiative Thursday aimed at improving care and cost-effectiveness in individual medical practices. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will spend $840 million over four years with the goal of helping 150,000 doctors modernize their day-to-day work in ways that improve patient care and reduce costs. The practices could include better use of electronic health records, better coordination of care among providers and expanding ways patients can communicate with doctors, HHS said. (The Hill - Oct, 23, 2014)

DeSalvo Leaving ONC for Ebola Response Team

Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health information technology at [the Department of Health and Human Services] is leaving that position to become acting assistant secretary of health, effective immediately, the [Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)] confirmed late Thursday. In her new position, DeSalvo will become part of the administration's Ebola response efforts. Lisa Lewis, the ONC's chief operating officer, now will serve as the acting national coordinator at ONC. (Modern Healthcare - Oct. 23, 2014)


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