May 6th, 2011 | View Archive
NIH RELEASES FY11 SPENDING PLAN
NIH announced its fiscal operations plan for the remainder of FY11, based on the approximately one-percent cut the agency received in the final FY11 appropriations act.
With the exception of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), non-competing research grants will be reduced one percent below the FY10 award level, while inflationary adjustments on non-competing awards will be set at two percent. Non-competing NCI research grants will be reduced three percent below the FY10 level. There are a number of exceptions to these guidelines, such as Career Awards, and institutions are advised to read the notice carefully.
NIH reaffirmed its commitment to new investigators, estimating that the FY11 policy will allow support of approximately 9,050 new and competing research project grants. The agency also will implement a two-percent stipend increase for Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for FY11.
NIH ESTABLISHES WORKING GROUP ON THE FUTURE OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH WORKFORCE
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the establishment of a new working group to examine the future of the biomedical research workforce in the United States. The group, co-chaired by Shirley Tilghman, Ph.D., President of Princeton University, and Sally Rockey, Ph.D., NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, will present recommended actions to the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), who advises the NIH Director on policy matters important to the NIH mission.
In order to examine the research, the group will gather input from the community, including students, postdoctoral fellows, investigators, scientific societies, and grantee institutions. In addition, the group will develop a model for a sustainable and diverse U.S. biomedical research workforce. The model can help inform decisions about how to train the optimal number of people for the appropriate types of positions that will advance science and promote health.
The official press release by NIH can be viewed here: www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2011/od-27.htm
DOD AWARDS $191 MILLION IN RESEARCH FUNDING
The Department of Defense announced on April 22, 2011 that it will issue awards as part of its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), which is designed to support efforts by teams of investigators who cross multiple science and engineering disciplines. The money will go to 27 different projects during a five-year period and expects to award $191 million. The awards will be made by the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Air Force
Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).
ARO, ONR, and the AFOSR solicited proposals in 25 topics important to DoD and received a total of 332 white papers, which were followed by 113 proposals. Based on the proposals selected in the FY11 competition, a total of 70 academic institutions are projected to participate. The awards announced were selected based on merit review by a panel of experts.
The list of projects selected for fiscal 2011 funding can be found at: www.defense.gov/news/d20110422MURI.pdf.
The official press release by the Department of Defense can be viewed here: www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14432.
DEFICIT REDUCTION TALKS BEGIN
As deficit reduction talks begin this week with Vice President Biden, House Speaker Boehner said that all federal spending is still on the table but tax increases are off limits.
The talks are aimed at securing a debt reduction deal needed to ensure congressional support for an increase in the federal debt limit, which must be raised by August 2, 2011. That consensus might result in a framework that excludes both proposed GOP reforms to Medicare and tax increases favored by Democrats. Both of these issues are politically sensitive and may be difficult to reach a common agreement.
Biden and other members plan on meeting again next Tuesday to continue negotiations.
House Energy and Commerce Committee holds "The Need to Move Beyond the SGR" hearing
Over the past 10 years, Congress has delayed adjustments to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) 12 times, with six of those coming in the past year. Physicians are currently under an extension, which postpones a nearly 30 percent pay cut until Jan. 1, 2012.
According to the most recent CBO estimate, it will take $298 billion in offsets just to wipe out the accumulated debt so far and restart from the baseline.
On May 5, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine potential models to reimburse physicians under the Medicare program that focuses on value and quality. Hearing witnesses included representatives from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Surgeons, The Brookings Institute, and the Coalition of State Medical and National Specialty Societies.
Below are summaries of the group's testimonies on how to fix the SGR issue, but no analysis on cost estimates have been conducted.
American Medical Association: Repeal the SGR, then "implement a five-year period of stable Medicare physician payments that keep pace with the growth in medical practice costs." During that period, pilot "a new generation of payment models" (medical homes, for example), then transition to those that improve quality, care coordination and costs. The AMA also wants Medicare to permit balance billing — physicians charging Medicare beneficiaries for an amount above and beyond what the government program covers.
American Academy of Family Physicians: After SGR repeal, there would be a five-year transition to the patient-centered medical home. Primary-care physicians would receive a higher reimbursement rate than other specialties, and primary-care incentives included in the health-care overhaul law would be increased and extended.
American College of Surgeons: After SGR repeal, set a "realistic budget baseline" for future payment increases, " which should "fairly reflect the costs of providing quality health care and are sufficient to preserve the patient-physician relationship and ensure patients have continued access to the physician of their choice." During a five-year transition to different payment models, reimbursement growth would vary by service.
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