e-Public Policy Update - April 2015

Contents:

  • ASM Sends Funding Recommendations to Congress
  • ASM Supports Basic Science Research
  • ASM Comments on Select Agent Regulation
  • ASM Supports CDC Biosafety Recommendations
  • ASM Nominates Advisory Council Members for National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
  • ASM Comments on Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act
  • ASM Alert on NIH RFI on Funding and Strategies to Improve Sustainability of Research
  • ASM Endorses Letter of Concern about Government Travel Restrictions
  • ASM Supports Funding for AFRI
  • ASM Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares Duodenoscope Document
  • ASM Attends March CCCLW
  • ASM Attends Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee Meeting
  • CLC Requests Protected Access to Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Services

ASM Sends Funding Recommendations to Congress
The Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) released a booklet titled: “Federal Funding for FY 2016: Biomedical and Life Sciences Research” which is a compilation of the ASM’s funding recommendations to Congress.  Included in the booklet are funding recommendations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research, Department of Energy, Office of Science (DOE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DOD) medical research programs.  The booklet is available on the PSAB public affairs webpage at For updates on the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations process go to http://www.asm.org/ResearchFunding.

ASM Supports Basic Science Research
The ASM, as a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), endorsed a letter sent in March to the Chairs of both the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology expressing concerns with H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Research, Science, and Technology or FIRST Act of 2014.  The letter urged Congress to support science and technology innovation at the National Science Foundation (NSF) by changing the current FIRST Act to provide sustainable funding levels for all basic science research at the NSF.  The ASM and the CNSF continue to work with Congress and staff as the legislation progresses.  A copy of the letter can be found on the ASM public policy webpage at: https://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/CNSF-FIRSTAct.pdf.

ASM Comments on Select Agent Regulation
In April, the ASM submitted two letters regarding the Select Agent Regulations (SAR).  The first addressed the biennial review from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS).  The ASM agreed with the proposal to remove two agents, Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia prowazekii, from the HHS Select Agents and Toxins list and four biological agents from the Overlap Select Agents and Toxins list maintained jointly by HHS and APHIS (Bacillus anthracis Pasteur strain,Brucella abortusBrucella melitensis, and Brucella suis). The letter is available at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93447-sar-4-15.

The ASM also responded to a request for public comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on the impact that the SAR has had on science, technology, and national security, and on the benefits, costs, and limitations of the regulations. The letter addressed the burden of inventories, SAR record keeping, issues with inspections and a recommendation for a standing advisory committee of outside experts to advise the federal government on SAR regulations.  The letter is available at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93448-ostp-4-15.

ASM Supports CDC Biosafety Recommendations
On March 25, the ASM sent a letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services regarding CDC Biosafety recommendations.  The ASM commended the Advisory Committee to the Director Concerning Laboratory Safety at CDC findings which identified opportunities for improvement in CDC laboratory safety protocols and policies.  The letter and links to the Advisory Committee’s recommendations are available at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93431-cdc-5-15.

ASM Nominates Advisory Council Members for National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
On March 27, the White House released a plan that identifies critical actions to be taken by key Federal departments and agencies to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. The National Action Plan outlines federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics.  

The ASM has submitted nominations for the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and will participate in the White House National Summit on Antibiotic Stewardship in May.  For more information on the National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic-Resistance go to:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/98-policy/issues/93434-wh-ar-3-15.

ASM Comments on Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act
In April, the ASM sent a letter to members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressing concerns about provisions in the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2016, H.R. 1806. The bill would seriously underfund discovery research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. The ASM supports strong funding across all disciplines of basic scientific research as a top national priority and urged Congress to provide steady and sustained growth in funding by setting robust authorization levels for the NSF and the DOE Office of Science.  ASM’s letter is at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93470-doe-nsf-2016.

The ASM, as a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) endorsed a coalition letter sent to Lamar Smith (R-TX) chair and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology supporting strong legislative language in the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.  The letter raised concerns with the potential for individually authorized budget levels for NSF directorates and stressed the importance of allowing the NSF the flexibility to fund grant proposals across the directorates in support of sound science and global competitiveness.  The letter can be found on the Public Policy webpage at http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/CNSF-HR-1806.pdf.

ASM Alert on NIH RFI on Funding and Strategies to Improve Sustainability of Research
In April, the PSAB sent ASM members the National Institutes of Health request for information (RFI) on optimizing funding policies and “other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of the NIH-funded biomedical research enterprise.”  The bulk e-mail let members know about the RFI and solicited responses to aid in the ASM response to NIH.  The bulk e-mail is at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/98-policy/issues/93454-nih-rfi-4-15.

ASM Endorses Letter of Concern about Government Travel Restrictions
The ASM signed onto a letter to Congress that expressed concern about the impact of Administration regulations and legislative initiatives related to government travel on the science and engineering enterprise and the pace of innovation. The letter highlights the importance of science and technology conferences for federal agencies scientists and urges Congress to work with agencies and the scientific community to ensure any further action does not add red tape and administrative burden.  The letter and a fact sheet are available on the public policy web page at: http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/ST-Conference-Travel.pdf.

ASM Supports Funding for AFRI
The ASM, a founding member of Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR), signed on to a letter urging members of the house and senate committee on appropriations, agriculture subcommittees, to fund the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) with at least $450 million in FY 2016.   AFRI is the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) competitive grants program and has been authorized at $700 million since its creation in 2008.

ASM Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares Duodenoscope Document
Recent reports of association of NDM-E. coli and CRE with duodenoscope procedures prompted the PSAB Committee on Laboratory Practices to draft On the Question of Culturing of Duodenoscopes to address the unique challenges of pathogen identification in cases of infections associated with gastrointestinal endoscopy.  The paper, which contains relevant links to FDA and CDC protocols, can be found at http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy-2/98-policy/issues/93456-lp-4-15.

ASM Attends March CCCLW
The Coordinating Council on the Clinical Laboratory Workforce (CCCLW) held a meeting in suburban Chicago, IL on March 10.  Among topics for discussion were the New Practitioner Survey and the Pathology Workforce Summit.  PSAB Professional Affairs Committee chair Vickie Baselski discussed proposed personnel standard changes and workforce lab value and reimbursement.  The CCCLW is a coalition of laboratory organizations working together to ensure a high quality workforce.  They focus their collective efforts to increase the number of qualified clinical laboratory professionals, to increase public awareness of the profession, and enhance the image of clinical laboratory scientists.  To read more about them and see their member organizations, go to http://www.ccclw.org/

ASM Attends Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee Meeting
ASM staff attended the March 5-6, 2014 meeting of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC).  A number of topics were addressed, including CDC’s strategic priority to strengthen public health and health care collaboration, improving the impact of laboratory practice guidelines and recommendations, and the status of Individualized Quality Control Plan (IQCP) implementation.  Ritchard Parry, chief of the Division of Laboratory Programs, Standards, and Services (DLPSS) introduced new Public Health/Clinical Laboratory training curricula.  The transcript and presentations are available at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/CLIAC/Meetings/MeetingDetails.aspx.

CLC Requests Protected Access to Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Services
ASM signed a letter from the Clinical Laboratory Coalition (CLC) asking Congressional leaders to protect access to Medicare Part B clinical laboratory services as they work to address the pending Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cuts to physician reimbursement. Specifically, the letter asks leaders to oppose any additional across-the-board reductions in the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS). In the CY 2014 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule, CMS outlined its plan to undertake a review of laboratory test payment rates and propose adjustments to rates beginning in 2014.  To see the letter, please go to http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/CLC-House2-2014.PDF.   

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