Wednesday, 15 March 2017 13:13

Public Policy Brief - March 15, 2017

Published in Policy Briefs


President Trump has chosen Eric Hargan to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Hargan has served as Deputy General Counsel for the HHS, as well as Principal Associate Deputy Secretary, and Acting Deputy Secretary. He is also a recipient of the HHS Secretary Award for Distinguished Service.

The Administration is reported to be calling agencies/programs that will be highlighted in the President's "skinny budget" release tomorrow and that agencies slated for significant cuts will be highlighted in the budget preview.

President Trump signed an Executive Order directing government agencies to come up with plans to reorganize their operations and scale back unnecessary programs.

Seema Verma, a health policy consultant, was confirmed as Head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Capitol Hill News

House Science Committee Transmits Views and Estimates Report to House Budget Committee

In a letter dated March 10 the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent a report to the House Budget Committee outlining the Science Committee’s priorities for FY 2018. The Committee states that it seeks “to increase support for basic research in the physical sciences…” The report goes on to say the Committee intends to enact reauthorizations of appropriations for the agencies under its jurisdiction including NIST, NSF, the DOE Office of Science and NASA. For NSF, the Committee’s report says “The Committee will require that NSF research funding be appropriated at the Directorate level with 70% of the research funding allocated to the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, the Biological Sciences Directorate, and the Engineering Directorate.”

For the DOE Office of Science, the Committee says, “The Committee seeks to prioritize basic research and science at the DOE national labs consistent with H.R. 589, the "Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act," which has already passed the House this Congress. The Committee seeks to enable researchers in all 50 states to have access to world-class user facilities, including supercomputers and high intensity light sources. Government subsidies that pick winners and losers diminish competition and rarely benefit the American taxpayer. A better role for the government is to support investments in basic scientific research in our universities and national labs…. The Committee will seek to prioritize Basic Energy Sciences, Advanced Scientific Computing Research, and Fusion Energy Sciences offset by reducing Biological and Environmental Research…”

For NOAA, the Committee intends to prioritize weather programs and reduce NOAA climate change programs and big, government satellite system costs.”

For NASA, the Committee will emphasize the Space Launch System and Orion programs in support of manned space flight. The Committee intends on maintaining “…the overall level of investment in NASA by reducing NASA Earth Science funding to $1.45 billion, the level authorized in Committee¬ approved H.R. 2039 last Congress, and reallocate the resulting $471 million to Planetary Science, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, the Orion Space Exploration Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle, the Commercial Crew Program, and Exploration R&D.”

Health Care

GOP Health Care Bill CBO Analysis
The Congressional Budget Office has released its estimate of the American Health Care Act which is being considered in the House.

ASM News

ASM and PASCV Make Requests to CDC about Zika PRNT
On February 28, the ASM and the Pan American Society of Clinical Virology (PASCV) drafted a letter expressing concerns about the turnaround time for results in the Zika plaque reduction neutralizing test (PRNT) currently available and suggested some solutions.