October 22 , 2007
In this issue:
The Department of Homeland Security is expected to publish this week the final list of chemicals that institutions must track and report because of their potential use in terrorist activities. Rumors are that DHS will create a threshold amount for affected chemicals, as opposed to the “any amount” disclosure requirement the Department proposed earlier this year.
Several higher education associations—including AAU, the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the Council on Governmental Relations, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association—are working to provide additional guidance to campuses.
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It light of the growing possibility that there will be no compromise SCHIP plan that satisfies the President or garners enough votes to override a veto, Democratic Congressional leaders are planning to use continuing resolutions to fund SCHIP at its current level. Meanwhile, a group of Republicans who oppose the vetoed SCHIP bill have introduced a proposal that they say would cover 10 million children by capping SCHIP coverage at 200 percent of the federal poverty level and offer refundable tax credits to families with incomes of between 200 percent and 300 percent of poverty.
On the other side of the fence, Senator Hutchison and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) produced a letter Thursday that all of the 18 Republicans who voted for the SCHIP bill signed asking House and Senate leaders to remain open to compromise.
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NIH Funding Guidelines
NIH published the following guidelines for the funding of research grants during the current federal government continuing budget resolution:
Notice Number: NOT-OD-08-001
Release Date: October 5, 2007
Issued by: National Institutes of Health (NIH), (http://www.nih.gov)
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to operate on a continuing resolution (CR) that currently extends through November 16, 2007.
The CR applies the terms of the FY 2007 appropriations for the period covered by the CR. Until the final FY 2008 appropriation is enacted, NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 80% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the CRs of FY 2006 & 2007. NIH will consider upward adjustments to these levels after the final appropriation is enacted, but expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period.
Inquiries: Questions regarding adjustments applied to individual grant awards may be directed to the Grants Management Specialist identified on the Notice of Award.
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The Department of Defense (DOD) has formally expressed its opposition to the proposed cap on indirect cost rates for basic research included in the House version of the FY08 Defense appropriations bill. In an appropriations review document, DOD calls the proposed cap “artificial, arbitrary, and unjustified” and likely to reduce DOD access to world-class research.
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Senate leaders have stripped language from the Labor/HHS appropriations bill that would have expanded federal financing for research on human embryonic stem cells. The provision would have allowed federal money to be spent on research involving stem-cell lines derived before June 15, 2007, nearly six years after an August 2001 deadline set by President Bush.
CMS released a Decision Memorandum for its Clinical Trial Policy announcing that it will not make changes to the current policy, leaving coverage intact for Medicare beneficiaries participating in "deemed" clinical trials. Specifically, the Decision Memo states, "Thus, after careful consideration, the Agency has decided that no change to the July 9, 2007 policy is appropriate at this time and therefore, we are not imposing any additional conditions of coverage.
Background: Prior to 2000, Medicare did not pay for routine patient costs associated with clinical trials because the treatments were considered “experimental.” In 2000, Medicare payments were allowed for trials authorized by federal agencies (primarily NIH and FDA). These trials were “deemed” eligible for coverage without duplicative inquiry by CMS. CMS recently proposed that trials be subject to a detailed, burdensome, duplicative certification process in order to qualify for Medicare coverage.
Legislation has been introduced in the House that extends by one year the moratorium related to the May 29 Medicaid final rule on cost limits/units of government and the May 23 Medicaid proposed rule on graduate medical education (GME) payments. The "Public and Teaching Hospital Preservation Act" was introduced Sept. 14 by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Sue Myrick (R-NC) and has 116 cosponsors. Nine Texans are on board (John Culberson, Al Green, Gene Green, Charlie Gonzalez, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Nick Lampson, Ron Paul, Ciro Rodriguez, Silvestre Reyes).
Senate Finance Chairman Baucus released details of his plan for a roughly $30 billion Medicare package that would stave off a scheduled 10-percent pay cut for physicians for two years. He acknowledged that cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans are on the table to help pay for the physician's fee fix. Other items on the list for possible Medicare cuts include specialty hospitals, oxygen, and wheelchairs.
At a hearing last week, the House subcommittee on science education reviewed the National Science Board’s plan for increasing the amount and quality of science education in American schools. The plan calls for the federal government to charter an independent body, similar to the National Academy of Sciences, to work with states and local school boards to develop voluntary national curricular standards in science and math. The National Science Board also called for voluntary standards for state accreditation of colleges of education based on how they train new teachers.
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recent legislation of note
Sponsor: Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas)
Measure: H Res 709
Official Title: A resolution recognizing and honoring the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum on October 9, 2007, and for other purposes.
Introduced: October 3
Sponsor: Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco)
Measure: HR 3780
Official Title: A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require a state to charge in-state utition rates to active-duty members of the armed forces domiciled or stationed on active duty in that state and to the dependents of such members.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Austin)
Measure: HR 3878
Official Title: A bill to authorize the National Science Foundatino to accept and use contributed funds from the Department of Energy for certain activities related to the Energy for Sustainability program.
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