June 16, 2009
Last week, June 9-10, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) held a conference of government relations representatives. Several topics were discussed including: health care reform, health information technology funding, and Recovery Act opportunities and challenges. Conference materials have been made available in electronic format, and can be accessed via the links below.
Discussions over Recovery Act funding included suggestions that universities begin to focus on telling their ARRA success stories, as Members of Congress will likely want to know how funding is being spent in their districts and states. To date, much of the effort employed for ARRA has focused on getting applications out and understanding reporting requirements. However, as 2010 approaches, we can expect many inquiries on how well our institutions are doing in accessing and making proper use of Recovery Act funding. Some Members of Congress (i.e. Senator Carl Levin) have taken to posting Recovery Act spending details for their constituents on their websites.
A session on health care reform, featuring Caya Lewis (Director of Outreach and Public Health Policy, HHS Office of Health Reform), reiterated that President Obama and the leadership in Congress are intently focused on passing a comprehensive bill by the end of this calendar year. Ms. Lewis explained that President Obama seeks a final bill that lowers cost while reducing costs, and increasing choice, quality, and prevention/wellness. The proposed public coverage option continues to be the main sticking point in bringing about a bipartisan bill. A health reform bill is expected on the Senate floor before the August recess, with House consideration and final passage in the fall.