October 7th, 2011 | View Archive
HOUSE APPROVES CONTINUING RESOLUTION THROUGH NOVEMBER 18
Although the new fiscal year began on Friday, October 1, none of the 12 annual appropriations have been passed by Congress. The Republican-led House has passed its versions of only six of the bills, and the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed just one.
Therefore, another temporary continuing resolution was necessary to avoid a government shutdown and the House voted on Thursday, 352 to 66, funding the government for another six weeks. The CR gives Congress and the Administration more time to work out details of how specific programs and departments will be funded for the remainder of the fiscal year.
SELECT AGENTS RULE COMMENTS
CDC and USDA are seeking comments on the revision of the Select Agent rule on control of dangerous pathogens and toxins. Below are the Federal Register notices and comments are due on December 2, 2011.
APHIS companion rules: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/10/03/2011-25520/agricultural-bioterrorism-protection-act-of-2002-biennial-review-and-republication-of-the-select
NSF I-CORPS ANNOUNCES FIRST ROUND OF AWARDEES
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected 21 teams for the inaugural class of NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) awards. The teams will receive guidance from private- and public-sector experts, participate in a specially designed training curriculum, and receive $50,000 to begin assessing the commercial readiness of their technology concepts. In total, the awards were representative of six NSF directorates: Engineering; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Biology; Mathematics and Physical Sciences; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences; and Education and Human Resources. The I-Corps program selects up to 25 teams on a quarterly basis to assess the commercial viability of their previously-supported basic research.
You can view the list of awardees here: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=121879&org=NSF&from=news
NIH LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO EXPLORE HEALTH EFFECTS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE
On Thursday, the NIH launched a program that will explore the role that a changing climate has on human health. Led by NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the program will research the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to heat exposure; changing weather patterns; changes in environmental exposures; and the negative effects of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
One of the program's main goals is to determine which populations will be more susceptible and vulnerable to diseases exacerbated by climate change. This program will also help to develop data, methods, and models to support health impact predictions.
For additional information, visit the NIEHS Human Health Impacts of Climate Change Web pages at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/programs/climate/index.cfm.
MEDPAC APPROVES GROWTH-FORMULA RECOMMENDATION
This week, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) voted to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and replace it with a controversial plan that would include reimbursement cuts to specialists and pay freezes for primary care physicians. The plan calls for $335 billion in reimbursement reductions over 10 years and the doc-fix will account for $100 billion. Specialists would see their reimbursement rates reduced by 5.9% each year for three years and then frozen for seven years. Other savings would come from cuts to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, beneficiaries and others.
Several medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, quickly registered their disapproval after the release. The unintended consequences of such changes could include more physicians dropping out of Medicare and its beneficiaries losing access to care.
MedPAC's vote comes right before an Oct. 14 deadline on congressional recommendations to the Super Committee, a group of 12 lawmakers who have to find a way to slash $1.5 trillion from the deficit by the end of the year.
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