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October 1, 2010


Washington Letter
October 1, 2010

Congress Passes Temporary Funding Measure for Government Programs

Prior to adjourning for election on Wednesday evening, the House and Senate each passed a continuing resolution (CR) that funds all government programs, including health research and services programs at the NIH and CDC, at FY2010 levels through December 3, although fiscal year 2010 officially ended this week. The House voted 228 to 194 in favor of the CR while the Senate vote was 69 to 30. Both chambers will be in recess until they return on or about November 15 for a "lame duck" session to finish work on 2011 spending bills. NIH's funding level for FY2010 is $31 billion and CDC's is $6.750 billion. The proposed FY2011 House and Senate Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations bills provide a 3.2% increase for the NIH, to $32 billion, and a 2.3% increase for the CDC, to $6.906 billion. The ATS Washington Office will continue to work with our allies to ensure that Congress provides funding increases for key research and public health programs.


National Health Care Workforce Commission Appointments Announced

This week, the General Accounting Office announced appointments for the new National Health Care Workforce Commission, created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Commission is charged with the following activities:

Developing and commissioning evaluations of education and training activities;
Identifying barriers to improved coordination at the federal, state and local levels and the development of strategies to address them; and
Encouraging innovation that addresses population needs and changing technology.

The first set of the 15 appointments to the Commission will serve staggered terms of one, two and three years.

The following commissioners will serve three-year terms that expire in September 2013:

Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, Commission Chair. Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Sheldon Retchin, MD, MSPH, Vice Chair. CEO, VCU Health System.
Brian J. Isetts, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota
Harold M. Maurer, MD, Chancellor, University of Nebraska
Thomas Ricketts, PhD, Professor, University of North Carolina

The following commissioners will serve two-year terms, expiring in September 2010:

• Mary Mincer Hansen, RN, PhD, Prof. Des Moines University
• John E. Maupin, Jr., DDS, President, Morehouse School of Medicine
• Neil M. Meltzer, MPH, President & CEO, Sinai Hospital
• Fitzhugh Mullan, MD, George Washington University
• Steven Zatkin, JD, Health Plans Consultant.

The following commissioners will serve one-year terms, expiring in September 2011:

• Katherine A. Flores, MD, Director, UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education & Research
• Kim Gillan, Workforce Development & Training Coordinator, Montana State University
• Lisa Renee Holderby, Director of Health Equity, Community Catalyst
• Deborah King, Exec. Director, 1199 SEIU Training & Employee Funds
• Richard Krugman, MD, Dean, University of Colorado


VA COPD Bill Introduced

This week, the co-chairs of the House COPD Caucus, Rep. Stearns (R-FL) and Rep. Lewis (D-GA), introduced legislation (H.R. 5996) to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of veterans with COPD. The legislation directs the VA Secretary to direct attention and resources to addressing COPD within the VA population. The bill was favorably reviewed at a recent hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. Testimony from the Department of Veterans' Affairs and several Veterans' Service Organizations all supported the legislation and the urgent need to address COPD within the VA population. The bill is likely to be considered at the next legislative mark up of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Reps. Stearns and Lewis introduced the legislation the request of the ATS and our sister organizations. The legislation is part of continuing efforts from ATS and the US COPD Coalition's to raise public awareness and resources to address COPD.  


NIH Publishes Biennial Report 

The NIH has published the Biennial Report of the Director for fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The report provides an overview of NIH research activities for Congress, advocates, patient groups and the general public. It includes an assessment of diseases, disorders, and adverse health conditions under the following six broad categories:
Neuroscience and Disorders of the Nervous System
Infectious Diseases and Biodefense
Autoimmune Diseases
Chronic Diseases and Organ Systems
Life Stages, Human Development, and Rehabilitation
Minority Health and Health Disparities

The report includes a brief section in the Chronic Diseases and Organ Systems Chapter highlighting lung diseases, specifically COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis, as well as an extensive section on tuberculosis under the infectious diseases chapter. A new feature of the report is a direct linkage to NIH's Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization system, which provides research funding data by disease area, including links to the projects associated with the disease funding area.

The report is available on the NIH website at: http://report.nih.gov/biennialreport/


CDC Director Identifies Six Winnable Health Priorities

CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, has identified six "winnable battles" as public health priority areas that the agency will focus efforts on. Dr. Frieden has identified the health priorities based on the magnitude of each public health problem and the CDC?s ability to make significant progress in improving outcomes.

The 6 priorities are:

Traffic accidents
Health-care associated infections
Teen pregnancy

Information on CDC's action plan in each area can be found at:



The Washington Letter is written by the American Thoracic Society government relations office and emailed to all ATS members living in the United States. The letter keeps clinicians, scientists, and patients abreast of legislative, judicial, and regulatory issues in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. Each week's edition is archived on the ATS Web site, www.thoracic.org. If you have any questions or one more information about becoming involved in advocacy, please contact the ATS Washington office at 202-296-9770.