Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have released a set of policy options for transforming the health care delivery system to improve patient care and reduce health care costs.
Among other options, their proposals would:
- Establish a Medicare value-based purchasing program for hospitals and begin to pay hospitals for their actual performance on quality measures beginning in 2013;
- Reduce payments to hospitals with high readmission rates for certain conditions;
- Bundle payments for hospital and post-acute care services within 30 days of hospital discharge;
- Redistribute unused graduate medical education slots to increase access to primary care; and
- Ban physician self-referral to a hospital in which the physician has an ownership interest, subject to certain requirements.
Senate Finance Committee Policy Options
Provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The President is championing a new climate of openness, collaboration, transparency and accountability in government, as well as respect for maintaining the integrity of science in governmental agencies. Your help is requested in developing guidelines to enable these goals to be achieved. For science to guide our government’s policy decisions, it is imperative that scientific data be credible and methodologies be transparent. The same goes for the selection of scientists and science policy experts for positions within the executive branch.
President Obama has recently asked the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a comprehensive strategy to guarantee the highest level of scientific integrity in the executive branch. The OSTP is seeking your recommendations on a number of key principles:
- What are the best ways to measure the knowledge, credentials, experience and integrity of a candidate for a science and technology position in the executive branch?
- How can the integrity of scientific processes by assured? What are some good examples to learn from?
- What are the most effective processes and organizational structures for assuring that scientific and technological information is reliable? How can the processes and structures used in each case best be disclosed as part of the public record?
- What are the best ways to maximize the legitimate public release of scientific and technological information relied upon by agencies?
- How can agencies best ensure that they will know when scientific or technological integrity has been compromised?
- What are the best ways to make sure that the science and technology an agency relies on is reliable?
Many of you have first-hand experience grappling with these issues on a daily basis. I encourage each of you to seize this special opportunity to offer your input. The deadline for public comment is May 13. You can learn more about how to submit your comments to the OSTP by visiting www.ostp.gov and clicking on the “Scientific Integrity” link.
Provided by the National Humanities Alliance
NATIONAL HUMANITIES ALLIANCE TESTIFIES FOR INCREASED NEH FUNDING
On Thursday, April 23, National Humanities Alliance Vice President and American Council of Learned Societies President, Pauline Yu, testified before the House Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ms. Yu urged the Subcommittee to provide the National Endowment for the Humanities with funding of at least $230 million in Fiscal Year 2010, including an additional $50 million for competitive grant programs and $25 million for operating grants to state humanities councils, over the FY 2009 enacted level.
She cited the value of the humanities to our nation’s long-term economic well-being, and to our continued status as a world leader. She highlighted the demand for humanities grants by explaining how in FY 2008, applications for NEH grants in all programs represented $421 million in requested funds, more than three times the program dollars obligated for that year. At the national level, only 16% of competitive, peer-reviewed project proposals were funded, compared to a 26% funding rate for merit-reviewed projects at the National Science Foundation (an agency similar to NEH in its connection to higher education and its mission to strengthen education and research at all levels in its sector). (more…)
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Starting May 1, 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin accepting applications for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The application form is available online.
The form requires that individuals currently eligible for another education benefit make an irrevocable election from their existing program to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Typically individuals who are eligible for more than one benefit may use a combined total of 48 months of entitlement. Therefore, for those individuals eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) program, please be advised that if you have entitlement remaining under the MGIB, the number of months of Post-9/11 GI Bill entitlement you will be eligible for will be equal to the number of months remaining under MGIB. However, if you exhaust all of your MGIB entitlement, then you may be entitled to a maximum of 12 additional months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Starting May 1, 2009 VA will begin processing applications for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and you will receive a letter explaining VA’s decision regarding your eligibility for the program. Payments for the Post-9/11 GI Bill will not be processed until August 1, 2009.
Click here to access the application form which includes instructions for submitting completed applications.
**UPDATE: The FY10 Budget Resolution conference agreement has been approved by the House and Senate**
House and Senate conferees have reached an agreement on an FY10 Budget Resolution. A budget resolution is a non-binding budget blueprint, which does not require the President’s signature. The legislation calls for $1.096 trillion in non-emergency discretionary spending in FY10, only $10 billion or 1% less than President Obama’s initial request -as captured in a budget blueprint from the administration in February. President Obama is expected to release a full budget request in early May.
The most contested provision of the FY10 Budget Resolution would permit the use of the fast-track budget reconciliartion process for health insurance and student loan reform legislation. The budget reconciliation process is being labeled as a last resort, and would allow for the movement of legislation with a simple majority -avoiding the threat of a filibuster by the minority.
Final votes on the budget resolution are expected on Wednesday April 29th.
Budget Resolution Documents
A recent report from the Institute of Medicine recommends that researchers and medical faculty members decline all gifts from medical companies and refuse to publish or present material that is ghostwritten for such companies in order to avoid real or perceive conflicts of interest. The recommendations also suggest broader reporting requirements of researchers’ ties to companies, but does not go so far as to recommend barring all such ties. Instead, the report suggests that researchers should disclose ties not only to their employers but to other medical organizations.
Read more about the Institute for Medicine report.
Today, the United States Senate confirmed Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services on a 65-31 vote. The confirmation comes at a critical moment, as the Obama administration deals with swine flu emergency that has surfaced in the past week. The confirmation completes President Obama’s cabinet and adds a voice to the administration that will be critical in dealing with an anticipated reform of the nation’s health insurance system.
TheSenate Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus (D-MT), could begin to hold mark-ups of health insurance reform legislation as early as June of this year, with full consideration by the Senate this fall. The inclusion of budget reconciliation language, on health insurance reform and student loan reform, in the FY10 budget resolution that is emerging from Congress could mean that health insurance reform would need only a simple majority to pass, and would not be threatened by a filibuster led by the minority party. However, the White House and Congressional leaders have expressed a desire to pass health insurance reform in a bi-partisan fashion.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) announced today that he is switching parties and will run for re-election as a Democrat in 2010, drastically altering the balance of power in the Senate. Specter has been a Republican for more than 40 years. His switch would make him the Democrats’ 60th vote in the Senate if Democrat Al Franken is seated (Franken is still in the midst of a legal recount battle in Minnesota). Specter’s switch comes as he faced an increasingly unfavorable electoral environment in Pennsylvania.
Senator Specter is currently the Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and has long been an advocate for increased funding for health research through NIH. It is unclear at this point how his switch will affect his committee assignments but he is sure to have an even larger role in determining funding levels for federal health and education programs.
Read Senator Specter’s statement here.
The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) and the National Center for Education Research (NCER) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will host a series of webinars related to research funding opportunities in May. Six types of webinars are planned.
Click here for more information about the upcoming webinars.
Click here to view slides from past webinar sessions.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2009
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
National Academy of Sciences
April 27, 2009
It is my privilege to address the distinguished members of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the leaders of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine who have gathered here this morning.
I’d like to begin today with a story of a previous visitor who also addressed this august body.
In April of 1921, Albert Einstein visited the United States for the first time. His international celebrity was growing as scientists around the world began to understand and accept the vast implications of his theories of special and general relativity. He attended this annual meeting, and after sitting through a series of long speeches by others, he reportedly said, “I have just got a new theory of eternity.” I’ll do my best to heed this cautionary tale.
The very founding of this institution stands as a testament to the restless curiosity and boundless hope so essential not just to the scientific enterprise, but to this experiment we call America.
A few months after a devastating defeat at Fredericksburg, before Gettysburg would be won and Richmond would fall, before the fate of the Union would be at all certain, President Lincoln signed into law an act creating the National Academy of Sciences.
Lincoln refused to accept that our nation’s sole purpose was merely to survive. He created this academy, founded the land grant colleges, and began the work of the transcontinental railroad, believing that we must add “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery… of new and useful things.”
This is America’s story. Even in the hardest times, and against the toughest odds, we have never given in to pessimism; we have never surrendered our fates to chance; we have endured; we have worked hard; we have sought out new frontiers.
Today, of course, we face more complex set of challenges than we ever have before: a medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures and treatments – attached to a health care system that holds the potential to bankrupt families and businesses. A system of energy that powers our economy – but also endangers our planet. Threats to our security that seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness so essential to our prosperity. And challenges in a global marketplace which links the derivative trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street, the office worker in America to the factory worker in China – a marketplace in which we all share in opportunity, but also in crisis.