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Washington Update
Week of November 28 - December 2
House Approves 21st Century Cures Legislation

On Wednesday, December 30, the House of Representatives approved the 21st Century Cures Legislation by a vote of 392 to 26. The House originally passed a 21st Century Cures bill in July 2015. The revised version is the result of House-Senate negotiations and is included as part of a larger health package. This legislation was the work of House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).
 
Of particular interest are the sections of the bill related to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Cures bill would provide $4.8 billion for a special “Innovation Projects” account to support specific initiatives at the NIH over the next 10 years, including $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $1.564 billion for the BRAIN Initiative and $1.8 billion for cancer research. The NIH Innovation Fund would be funded with offsets by: the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Public Health and Prevention Fund; unused funds from territories for ACA exchanges; reductions in overpayments in Medicare/Medicaid; and sales from the strategic petroleum oil reserve.


The legislation would also reauthorize the NIH for the years FY2018-FY2020, providing an NIH authorization of $36.47 billion by FY2020, an increase of $4.4 billion over current funding levels. The bill creates a “Next Generation of Researchers Initiative” to promote and improve opportunities for new researchers. The act also includes a section on reducing administrative burden for researchers. A section by section outline of the bill is available here. An analysis of the legislation, including further information on the legislation's reduction of regulatory burdens, prepared by the Association of American Universities is available here.

This legislation is expected to pass the Senate next week. The White House has issued a statement of support for this legislation, which can be found here.

House Approves National Defense Authorization Act; U-M Measure Included

Today, the House approved the House-Senate conference agreement of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S.2943). For FY2017, the NDAA conference agreement would authorize Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research (6.1) at $2.142 billion (FY16 is $2.309 billion), Science and Technology (6.1-6.3) at $12.489 billion (FY16 is $13.251 billion), and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at $2.957 billion (FY16 is $2.891 billion).

This legislation also calls for a demonstration using Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID) in the TRICARE program (page 454 of the conference agreement). The U-M Center for V-BID leads the effort to promote development, implementation, and evaluation of health benefit designs balancing cost and quality. According to the V-BID website, a multidisciplinary team of faculty first named and published the V-BID concept, guiding this approach from early principles to widespread adoption in the private and public sectors. According to V-BID: "the demonstration includes an evaluation of how reducing or eliminating the cost-sharing for specified high-value medications and services impacts:  (I) adherence to medication regimens; (II) quality measures; (III) health outcomes; and (IV) beneficiary experience."

The NDAA conference report also would extend the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program until FY2022 (Sec. 1834). The bill would not make any changes to the SBIR/STTR set-aside amounts.
 
The conference agreement would establish the Manufacturing Engineering Education program (Sec.215), to award grants to industry, non-profits, universities or consortiums of such groups, to enhance or establish new programs in manufacturing engineering education. The Manufacturing Engineering Education program language is a slightly modified version of the Manufacturing Universities language originally included in the Senate-passed FY2017 NDAA bill.
 
A fact sheet of the FY2017 NDAA is available here. The Senate is expected to consider this legislation next week.

NIH Will Raise Postdoc Salaries Despite Threats to Overtime Rule

The NIH stated in a blog post last week that it will go forward with implementation of a rule to raise salaries for postdocs. In May 2016, the Department of Labor issued revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stating US salaried, full-time professional workers will be entitled to overtime pay if they are paid below the new FLSA defined threshold. The rule requires overtime pay for workers making less than $47,476 beginning December 1, 2016.

A federal judge has blocked implementation of the rule and the Congress has introduced bills to delay or phase-in the overtime rule. Regardless, the NIH intends to go forward with their plan to raise the stipends of certain biomedical postdocs. Secretary of Labor wrote a blog post about the rule in May titled: "Fair Pay for Postdocs: Why We Support New Federal Overtime Rules" with further details. Read the Science article reporting on this here.

President-Elect Trump Names Double U-M Alum to Lead HHS
 
This week, President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate double U-M alum Congressman Tom Price, M.D. to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Rep. Price attended U-M for undergraduate and medical school. He currently represents the sixth district of Georgia.

Rep. Price remarked: "I am humbled by the incredible challenges that lay ahead and enthusiastic for the opportunity to be a part of solving them on behalf of the American people. There is much work to be done to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit." Read the full announcement from Trump's transition website here.

It has also been reported that President-elect Trump has offered the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to U-M Medical School alum Dr. Ben Carson, but no formal announcement has been made.

Legislative Activities
 
The Senate reconvenes on Monday, December 12 and will begin consideration of the 21st Century Cures Act legislation. The House of Representatives reconvenes on Tuesday, December 13.

Committee Activities

Tuesday, December 6

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Highways and Transit Subcommittee Roundtable on the Impact of Autonomous Vehicle Technology on America’s Transportation Systems
10:00 a.m., 2167 Rayburn
Highlighting U-M Faculty Serving on Federal Advisory Committees:

We are proud to feature U-M faculty and staff who are serving on a Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) in our weekly newsletter. Through FACs, faculty and staff live out U-M’s mission to serve the state, nation, and world by applying their knowledge and expertise to help shape and inform national policy. If you are currently serving on a FAC, or have recently been selected to serve, please let Kristina or Madeline know.

Professor Rosina Bierbaum
This week, we are featuring Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, a Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), and the School of Public Health. Before becoming Dean of SNRE in 2001, Rosina served in both the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government, including as the Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Because of her long service in Government, President Schlissel asked Rosina to co-chair his National Service and Policy Engagement Committee along with Alec Gallimore.
 
Dr. Bierbaum serves on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST is an advisory group of 19 leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President and the Executive Office of the President. PCAST makes policy recommendations in the many areas where understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key to strengthening our economy and forming sound public policy.
 
Through her work on PCAST, Dr. Bierbaum has contributed to a multitude of PCAST documents and reports. This week, an executive summary of the latest report was released: Report on Science and Technology to Ensure the Safety of the Nation’s Drinking Water. Dr. Bierbaum co-chaired the working group that wrote the report, in response to President Obama’s concerns about the safety of our Nation’s drinking water, underscored by the discovery of lead in the tap water in Flint.  
 
Dr. Bierbaum also co-chaired the Report on Private Sector Efforts in Adaptation to Climate Change 2015. This report identified ways the Administration can assist the private sector in preparing for and adapting to near- and long-term impacts of climate change
 
Dr. Bierbaum has made contributions to all reports, but was most involved with:
 
All PCAST reports are available here. To learn more about Dr. Bierbaum’s background and research, please click here.
Nomination Announcements
 
 
Lead Authors or Review Editors
The United States Department of State, in cooperation with the United States Global Change Research Program, seeks nominations for U.S. scientists with requisite expertise to serve as Lead Authors or Review Editors on the first Special Report to be undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
 
The call for nominations will close on Tuesday, December 6. More information is available here.

Federal Advisory Committees:

Disease, Disability, and Injury Prevention and Control Special Emphasis Panel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is soliciting nominations for membership on the Disease, Disability, and Injury Prevention and Control Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).

The Disease, Disability, and Injury Prevention and Control Special Emphasis Panel provides advice and guidance to the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); the Director, CDC, and the Administrator, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) regarding the concept review, scientific and technical merit of grant and cooperative agreement assistance applications, and contract proposals relating to the causes, prevention, and control of diseases, disabilities, injuries, and impairments of public health significance; exposure to hazardous substances in the environment; health promotion and education; and other related activities that promote health and well-being.


Nominations are due March 31, 2017. Further information is available here.
 
NSF Advisory Committee Openings
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for positions available on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees. There are 13 advisory committees accepting nominations including:
  • Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure
  • Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources
  • Advisory Committee for Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Geosciences
  • Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
  • Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Business and Operations
  • Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee
The federal register notice, with details on how to submit names, is available here. Nominations for membership are maintained for one year.
 
National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.
 
Council on Graduate Medical Education
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
News Articles
Big innovations require big investment
 
Trump’s pick to run HHS has researchers speculating on how science will fare
Maryland congressman in running to head NIH?
Q&A: Key legislator disses White House science office
House approves sprawling bill that would expand medical research
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If you would like to be added to the Washington Update, please contact Madeline Nykaza (mnykaza@umich.edu).






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