Congress Passes Resolution to Fund Federal Government Through November 18; Take Action to Support Funding for NIH Narrowly avoiding a shutdown of the federal government, President Obama has signed into law a six-week continuing resolution, or CR, that funds the federal government through November 18 at a rate of $1.043 trillion, the amount mandated in the Budget Control Act of 2011 and nearly $7 billion below fiscal year (FY) 2011 levels. As a result, funding for most federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is reduced by 1.503 percent from the FY 2011 levels.
Although a CR will temporarily fund the federal government, Congress must still complete work on its FY 2012 spending bills this fall. Negotiations between the House and Senate on a final FY 2012 spending package are expected to begin soon and funding for NIH remains in jeopardy. Read more about the FY 2012 appropriations process and visit the ASH Advocacy Center to quickly and easily contact your Senators and Representative about the need to adequately fund NIH.
ASH Calls for Increased FDA Authority and Resources to Address Drug ShortagesCalling the increase in national drug shortages "a tsunami of medical risk," ASH Committee on Practice Chair Lawrence A. Solberg Jr., MD, PhD, offered several recommendations on strategies to combat drug shortages during a special September meeting of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. ASH also submitted comments to a House of Representatives September 23rd hearing, "Examining the Increase in Drug Shortages." ASH was the first organization to ask Congress to hold hearings on the problem of drug shortages. Read more about ASH's advocacy efforts related to drug shortages, the latest information on hematologic drug shortages, and resources for physicians. ASH's recommendations to the FDA and Congress are also available online.
Congressman Cummings Investigates Marked-Up Prices of Drugs in Short Supply Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7th), a ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee, launched an investigation into the prescription drug "gray market" — where companies sell critical medications that are in short supply at exorbitantly marked-up prices — part of a recent congressional focus on drug shortages. Representative Cummings requested information from five companies that sell drugs but do not manufacture them or treat patients. He said a preliminary investigation found that some companies charge drug prices dozens of times higher than the typical price negotiated with manufacturers and distributors. Read more.
Obama Deficit Reduction Plan Would Make $320 Billion in Health Cuts, Including Medicare, Medicaid; Assumes Repeal of SGR The deficit reduction plan President Obama shared with the Congress September 19 includes $320 billion in health cuts over a decade; $248 billion of the reductions would come from Medicare and $73 billion from Medicaid. What President Obama did not recommend was an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, something that up until this past weekend White House aides said was still being considered. In addition, while the President's proposal does not make specific recommendations concerning Medicare physician payment, it does note that the President assumes congressional action to permanently fix the troublesome physician payment formula. Read more.
MedPAC Recommends Plan to Overhaul Physician Payment; Overlooks Concerns About Offsets Despite overwhelming provider opposition, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an advisory committee to Congress, approved a proposal to repeal the physician payment formula. ASH has long advocated to eradicate the flawed formula, however, has joined with other physician groups in opposing MedPAC's proposed fix because it would pay for the cost of the repeal through significant cuts and long-term freezes to physicians. Read more.
ASH Urges the NIH to Protect the Future of Hematology Biomedical Research Workforce In August, the NIH Working Group on the Future of Biomedical Research Workforce published a request for information seeking input about how to ensure the United States maintains a sustainable, diverse, and productive biomedical research workforce. In its response, the Society cited the importance of the hematology workforce, noting that hematologists are currently working on some of the most costly and devastating medical problems that affect health care in the United States. Moreover, the Society noted that the vast majority of these important advances in hematology research and treatment of hematological diseases have all depended on support from the NIH. Read more.
Appeal Filed in Lawsuit Challenging NIH Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research The plaintiffs in a lawsuit (Sherley v. Sebelius) challenging federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a July ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissing the lawsuit. Read more.
NIH Program Allows Junior Investigators to Bypass Traditional Post-Doc Training A program designed to accelerate the entry of outstanding junior investigators into independent researcher positions immediately following completion of their graduate research degree or clinical residency has announced its first recipients. The NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (EIA) is part of an NIH-wide effort to empower the biomedical research workforce, particularly through the support of investigators early in their careers. Read more.
NIH Loan Repayment Program Application Cycle Opens The 2012 application cycle for the National Institutes of Health’s Loan Repayment Programs is now open. The programs repay the outstanding student loans of researchers who are or will be conducting biomedical or behavioral research at universities and other nonprofit organizations. Participants can receive up to $35,000 annually to help repay their loans. Applications are due November 15, 2011.
Advance Registration Open for 2011 Annual Meeting in San Diego Advance registration and housing for the 53nd ASH Annual Meeting, in San Diego on December 10-13, 2011, is now open. Register online today. If you have questions, contact the ASH Meetings Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-776-0544.
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