November 29, 2018 Compass

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

President Signs Into Law Education and Health Funding Bill


CAPITOL HILL NEWS

Congress Passes Opioid Package; Includes Additional Support for Social Work


WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Population of Immigrant Children Detained at Border Continues to Grow

NIH Releases Sexual Harassment Policy Guidance

NASEM Holds Meeting on Social Needs and Health-Care Integration


MEMBER RESOURCES

NIH Accepting Loan Repayment Applications

 

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

President Signs Into Law Education and Health Funding Bill

On September 28 President Trump signed into law a bill funding the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for fiscal year 2019. The bill funds ED at $71.5 billion, an increase of $581 million. This increase is a clear rejection of the cuts proposed by the president’s budget request and includes a $100 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award and increases of $50 million and $10 million, respectively, for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs. The bill provides a fourth consecutive increase of at least $2 billion for NIH, bringing the agency’s total funding to $39.1 billion. The total includes $711 million for specific initiatives in the NIH Innovation Account authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act. CSWE weighed in with members of Congress throughout the drafting of the bill and sent a letter to members negotiating the final bill. The letter advocated for continued investments in vital programs to support social work students and ensure a strong pipeline of professionals to meet the social needs challenges facing the United States.

CAPITOL HILL NEWS 

Congress Passes Opioid Package; Includes Additional Support for Social Work

On October 3 the Senate passed and sent to the president a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis. The legislation passed the House of Representatives on September 28. Of note, the bill expands access for substance use treatment services and allows mental and behavioral health providers participating in the National Health Service Corps program to provide care at a school or other community-based setting in a health professional shortage area. The package also provides up to $250,000 in a new loan repayment program for substance use disorder treatment professionals who serve 6 years in mental health professional shortage areas or counties with the highest number of drug overdoses. The CSWE Public Policy Initiative worked with Representative Katherine Clark’s (D-MA) office to support this new loan repayment program, which ensures an adequate pipeline of substance use providers, including social workers. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.
 

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Population of Immigrant Children Detained at Border Continues to Grow 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the agency’s internal watchdog group, conducted a review of the consequences of the Trump administration’s policy, initiated in May 2018, to separate immigrant families at the border. The OIG found that poor planning led to poor execution, policy violations, communication breakdowns, and a general indifference by the administration regarding the impact of these decisions on the safety and well-being of children being held in custody and their families. Following a Freedom of Information Act request late last month, it was discovered that contrary to her earlier claims that there was no formal policy, DHS Director Kirstjen Nielsen had signed off on a memo that approves prosecuting all adults, including those with families, who cross the border illegally, knowing that this would result in thousands of children being separated from their families.

At present, more than 13,000 immigrant children are being held in a mix of facilities. CSWE has provided members with voluntary action alerts on this issue.

NIH Releases Sexual Harassment Policy Guidance

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released information regarding their policies on sexual harassment. NIH Director Francis Collins announced a new website on September 17 that outlines all NIH policies regarding its future responses to incidents of sexual harassment and new actions the agency will take. He reiterated that an institution receiving an NIH grant is “required to develop and implement policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment.” If an institution discovers a principal investigator (PI) engaged in sexual harassment, it must notify NIH before replacing the PI. The agency maintains the right to suspend or terminate the grant if the actions taken by the institution are not deemed acceptable. 

These actions follow a June report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled Sexual Harassment of Women that demonstrated how widespread and systemic the problem is in all research fields.

NASEM Holds Meeting on Social Needs and Health-Care Integration

On September 24 the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) held a meeting of the Committee on Integrating Social Needs Care into the Delivery of Health Care to Improve the Nation’s Health. The committee heard from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on federal efforts to include social services in health-care delivery. ACL cited a survey showing that although four of five physicians thought unmet social needs directly and negatively affect patient health, the physicians were not confident of their ability to provide social needs care, underscoring the importance of social workers in comprehensive health-care delivery. HRSA discussed the need for increased collection and analysis of health workforce data to understand who is providing integrated social needs and health care. As an example, HRSA stated that only 19% of Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program participants were physicians. HRSA also said it will increase investments in nonphysician, non-nursing workforce programs starting in fiscal year 2019. 

The committee will hold one more meeting before beginning to draft a final report on the state of social needs care and health-care integration and recommendations for areas of improvement.

MEMBER RESOURCES

NIH Accepting Loan Repayment Applications

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Division of Loan Repayment (DRL) is accepting applications to the NIH Loan Repayment Program. DRL will repay up to $35,000 of a researcher’s qualifying educational debt annually, with researchers able to apply for annual renewals as long as they maintain eligibility. Applicants are not required to have active research funding from NIH. Researchers possessing a PhD are eligible to apply; however, a DSW degree is not included in the list of qualifying degrees. Please see the program website for more details on eligibility requirements.

September 27, 2018 Compass

Public Policy News

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

CSWE Comments at ED Public Hearing

CAPITOL HILL NEWS

A Full Fall Legislative Forecast

Congress Set to Pass Domestic and Defense Spending Package

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

BHWET: Making Strides in Mental Health Access

Department of Education Considering New Program Disclosures

MEMBER RESOURCES

HRSA Overhauls Data Warehouse Website

National Suicide Prevention Week

 

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

CSWE Comments at ED Public Hearing

CSWE’s Director of Accreditation, Stacey Borasky, recently presented at a U.S. Department of Education (ED) public hearing. The purpose of the hearing was to solicit comments and feedback on ED’s proposal to establish a rulemaking committee tasked with updating regulations governing accreditation, state authorization, competency-based education, and other issues. An overview of this proposed rulemaking was highlighted in last month’s CSWE Compass. CSWE’s comments at the hearing focused on the role of programmatic or specialized accreditors in ensuring high-quality academic programs. CSWE also noted that outcomes are best determined by the academic accrediting community, and that outcome measurements should not be mandated by the federal government.
 

CAPITOL HILL NEWS 

A Full Fall Legislative Forecast

Members of Congress returned to Washington with a busy agenda ahead of them. Much of the focus has been on funding the government. Congress has made record progress on the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process and has passed several funding bills on time for the first time in a decade. Congress is also hoping to pass a comprehensive legislative package to address the opioid crisis before members leave prior to the midterm elections. The House of Representatives passed their opioid package in June, and the Senate passed their version earlier this month. The two bills will head to conference to have the differences worked out. There is no timeline for a conference agreement, although the final bill is expected to be largely bipartisan, and both parties want to pass the legislation before the elections. 
 
The Senate held hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month, and the Senate Judiciary Committee planned to hold a vote on September 20. Voting on President Trump’s nominee before Senators leave town in late October is a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). However, recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh have led to calls from Democrats and some Republicans to delay the process until the allegations can be considered and investigated.
 

Congress Set to Pass Domestic and Defense Spending Package

On September 13, Senate and House of Representatives conferees reached an agreement on a fiscal year (FY) 2019 package to fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. The Senate passed the bill on September 18 by a vote of 93–7. The House is expected to pass the bill next week. Of note, the package would support resources to combat the opioid crisis and increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 
 
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), introduced an amendment to provide the Department of Education with $10 million for a demonstration program to test partnerships between higher education institutions and state and local education agencies to train school counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals. The program aims to address shortages of school-based mental health service providers, particularly those in low-income areas. The amendment was included in the final version of the bill.
 
Health amendments that were adopted would require the following: 
A comprehensive NIH study of current funding levels related to mental health and substance use disorders.
A report to Congress from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for prescription drug and opioid addiction, with a focus on how they are overcoming barriers to MAT for adolescents and young adults.
A Government Accountability Office study of the relationship between intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury.
Increased funding for Lyme disease and activities related to neonatal abstinence syndrome at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
The bill includes a $2 billion increase for NIH, which would bring the agency to $39.1 billion in FY 2019. This is the NIH’s fourth consecutive increase of at least $2 billion. During the Senate floor debate, senators on either side of the aisle expressed strong support for NIH-funded research, citing the importance of this funding to addressing challenges such as the opioid crisis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes.
 
Despite objections from members of the House and a handful of senators, a proposal to include a $100 increase to the Pell Grant maximum award for the 2019–2020 school year was included in the final bill.

 

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

BHWET: Making Strides in Mental Health Access

In its June 2018 issue, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published an article written by program officers from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) titled “Closing Behavioral Health Workforce Gaps: A HRSA Program Expanding Direct Mental Health Service Access in Underserved Areas.” The article describes outcomes tied to HRSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) program, which supports the pipeline for new behavioral health professionals, including social workers. Several schools of social work are currently grantees of the BHWET program. The article discusses the number of behavioral health students supported by the program to date, including 3,523 new social workers, the largest among all eligible disciplines. The authors note, “programs such as BHWET are providing critical access to needed behavioral health services, and at the same time are working to neutralize the projected future gaps in the nation’s behavioral health workforce.”
 

Department of Education Considering New Program Disclosures 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed rescinding the gainful employment regulations. These regulations, promulgated under the Obama Administration as a way of regulating for-profit education institutions and certificate programs at nonprofit institutions, can lead to programs losing access to federal aid if the typical debt-to-earnings ratio of graduates exceed a certain threshold. In announcing this proposal Secretary DeVos noted, “instead of targeting schools simply by their tax status, this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs.” The Department of Education (ED) is additionally considering an update to the College Scorecard, or a similar Web-based tool, to provide program-level outcomes, including program-level earnings data for all higher education programs, at all institutions that participate in title IV of the Higher Education Act. Additional disclosures that potentially would be required of all programs would include net price, program size, completion rates, and accreditation and licensing requirements. These disclosures would be made available on program Web pages. ED is accepting comments on this proposal until September 13.
 

MEMBER RESOURCES

HRSA Overhauls Data Warehouse Website

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has overhauled its Data Warehouse Web page. The redesigned page promises easier access to statistics and insights on distribution of grant funding, areas with shortages of care providers, rural health data, and other information collected by HRSA. The website also allows for detailed queries across multiple datasets through its Data Portal. 
 

National Suicide Prevention Week

September 9–15 is National Suicide Prevention Week. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has published a list of resources, including 24-hour crisis lines and training materials, for care providers. HRSA notes, “nearly 45 percent of suicide victims had contact with primary care providers within 1 month of suicide,” underscoring the importance of a care workforce equipped to address suicide prevention. 



August 16, 2018 Compass

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

CSWE and SSWR Meet With Federal Funding Agencies

CSWE President Speaks at National Academies on Social Needs and Health-Care Integration

CAPITOL HILL NEWS

Mental Health Caucus Leaders Introduce Bill to Address Workforce Shortage

U.S. House on Recess; Senate Keeps Working

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Department of Education Looking to Shake Up Accreditation

CSWE and SSWR Respond to Proposed 2020 Census Question on Citizenship

SAMHSA Holds 64th National Advisory Council Meeting

Kelvin Droegemeier Nominated to Lead White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

CSWE ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH

CSWE and SSWR Meet With Federal Funding Agencies

CSWE and the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) agreed 2 years ago to collaborate on legislative advocacy efforts to raise the profile of social work, social work education, and social work research. Each year the leadership of the two organizations meets with representatives of Congress and/or federal agencies to build relationships and promote social work and social work research. 
In July Dr. Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE president and CEO, and Dr. Brian Perron met with representatives from the National Institutes of Health and other federal funding agencies based in Washington, DC, to raise the profile of the profession and highlight how social workers address social challenges through research and education. Perron, a professor of social work at the University of Michigan and former board member of SSWR, was appointed by SSWR President Dr. Ruth Dunkle to attend. The meetings offered a great opportunity to highlight the wide range of research and service delivery contexts social workers engage in, build and strengthen relationships with federal funding agencies, and emphasize the breadth and impact of the social work profession.
 

CSWE President Speaks at National Academies on Social Needs and Health-Care Integration

On July 16 the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine held the first meeting of the Committee on Integrating Social Needs Care into the Delivery of Health Care to Improve the Nation’s Health. The committee invited presentations from several stakeholders, including CSWE President and CEO Dr. Darla Spence Coffey. Coffey spoke on the importance of addressing social determinants of health; the need for a workforce to address these needs; and the role of social workers in providing holistic, patient-centered, and community-based care. The committee also invited presentations from Angelo McClain, CEO of the National Association of Social Workers; and Sara Bachman, director of the Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health at the Boston University School of Social Work. The committee will host a second meeting on September 24.
 

CAPITOL HILL NEWS 

Mental Health Caucus Leaders Introduce Bill to Address Workforce Shortage

On July 30 the co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), introduced the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Relief Act of 2018 (HR 6597). The bipartisan legislation would create a loan repayment program for mental health professionals, including social workers, who complete service in mental health workforce shortage areas, giving students pursuing mental health careers an incentive to work in underserved areas. Along with other national organizations dedicated to strengthening access to mental health services, CSWE recently signed on to the Mental Health Liaison Group’s letter of support addressed to Representatives Katko and Napolitano. The letter mentions social workers and states, “this legislation is a vital step in addressing our nation’s dire shortage of mental health professionals and reducing the unmet mental health treatment gap for Americans across the lifespan.” 
 

U.S. House on Recess; Senate Keeps Working

The House of Representatives adjourned for August recess the week of July 27, leaving behind several pieces of pending legislation. The Senate, however, has foregone its typical August recess and will work 3 weeks this month on items such as the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and myriad funding bills to keep the federal government operating into the new fiscal year.
 
The Senate is expected to consider the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill the second week of August. The bill includes funding for several programs important to social work education, including student aid and health professions programs such as the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program. It will probably be paired with the FY 2019 Department of Defense funding bill, which may help gain backing from supporters of domestic programs and defense spending.
 
The Senate will probably continue efforts to finalize a legislative package to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, but it’s unclear whether the vote on a final opioid bill will come before Labor Day. The House successfully advanced a package of opioid response bills last month.
 

WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL AGENCY NEWS

Department of Education Looking to Shake Up Accreditation

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has been busy advancing the Trump Administration’s regulatory agenda. On July 31, ED announced it will host public hearings and establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to evaluate regulations under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Stakeholders will be invited to meet, discuss, and develop proposed regulations. ED will accept written comments on the negotiating committee’s agenda through September 14, 2018.
The rulemaking committee will develop revisions to the current regulations governing the department’s recognition of accrediting agencies. Topics for negotiation would include
requirements for accrediting agencies in their oversight of member institutions;
requirements for accrediting agencies to honor institutional mission;
criteria used by the secretary to recognize accrediting agencies, emphasizing criteria that focus on educational quality;
developing a single definition for measuring and reporting job placement rates; and
simplifying ED's process for recognition and review of accrediting agencies.
 
CSWE has been vigorously involved in demonstrating the crucial role played by programmatic accreditors in ensuring the professional preparation of future social work graduates. CSWE will submit comments on the negotiating committee’s agenda to ED. 
 

CSWE and SSWR Respond to Proposed 2020 Census Question on Citizenship 

 
On June 8 the Department of Commerce posted a Federal Register notice soliciting feedback from the public on the proposed changes to the 2020 Decennial Census, including the introduction of a question on citizenship. CSWE and SSWR are deeply concerned that this question has not been vetted for its impact and will lead to a reduced response rate. The function of the census, according to the Constitution, is to count every person, not every citizen. Introducing this question without researching the impact demonstrates a shocking lack of scientific rigor.
A reduced response rate and inaccurate data would render the census relatively meaningless for research, representation, and resource distribution purposes. In October 2017, Commerce estimated the cost of executing the 2020 Census at $15.6 billion. Census Bureau data in fiscal year 2015 supported 132 federal programs worth $675 billion dollars, covering everything from health care and education to public safety and infrastructure. This projected cost allocation depends on accurate data. Data from the survey are also used to help make informed decisions regarding economic planning, workforce projections, and income and poverty estimates.
In a nontraditional move, Commerce has not yet made public the nearly 80,000 comments submitted. When they do, the CSWE and SSWR letter will be available at Regulations.Gov.
 

SAMHSA Holds 64th National Advisory Council Meeting

On August 2 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Advisory Council held its 64th meeting. Noteworthy topics included enhancing SAMHSA’s support of a strong pipeline of behavioral health professionals in light of the nation’s opioid crisis, involving stakeholders to raise awareness about Serious Mental Illness issues, leveraging recommendations by the Federal Commission on School Safety, and finalizing SAMHSA’s 4-year strategic plan as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. The new Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health at SAMHSA, Arne Owens, facilitated the discussion. Owens highlighted general behavioral health workforce challenges and expressed SAMHSA’s desire to offer more support, while acknowledging that the Health Resources and Services Administration’s primary role in preparing the future workforce. Several meeting participants mentioned the need to build national awareness of SMI issues, highlighting the stakeholder community’s critical role in accomplishing this goal. Another key theme was integration of mental health services in schools and anticipation of the school safety commission’s recommendations.
 

Kelvin Droegemeier Nominated to Lead White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 

On August 1, President Trump nominated Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Trump Administration took nearly twice as long as any other modern administration to appoint an individual to this role. Informally, the OSTP director is the chief science advisor. Droegemeier is a faculty member of the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology, where he has been the vice president for research since 2009. His research focus is predicting extreme storms. A well-respected scientist in the academic community, Droegemeier has served on the National Science Board, the committee that advises the National Science Foundation. He was appointed to that position by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. The higher education advocacy community has largely expressed support of the nomination.