Federal Government Shuts Down After Senate Unable to Reach Deal

After weeks of negotiations, the Senate rejected a deal on a measure to keep the government funded after the January 19 deadline.

On January 18, the House had approved legislation to keep the government funded through February 16 and extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through fiscal year (FY) 2023. Congress will reconvene today, January 20, to discuss a tentative deal on a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the government funded through February 8, with an agreement to hold a vote prior to that date on the status of individuals enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

According to The Washington Post, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the conflict has a “really good chance” of being resolved before the government opens on Monday.

In advance of a shutdown, federal agencies have posted contingency staffing plans for a shutdown. Approximately half of the employees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be furloughed. Included in the operations that will continue, the National Institutes of Health “will continue patient care for current NIH Clinical Center patients, minimal support for ongoing protocols, animal care services to protect the care of NIH animals, and minimal staff to safeguard NIH facilities and infrastructure.” Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “will continue minimal support to protect the health and well-being of US citizens here and abroad through a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center.”  For more about how HHS may be affected, read more on the HHS contingency plan or from HealthLeaders Media.

AADR Heads to the Hill: What to Expect for the 2018 Advocacy Day

Next month, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and the Friends of NIDCR will host the annual Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. This event, which will be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET, is intended to bring those who support dental, oral and craniofacial research to Washington, D.C. to educate policymakers about the value of this work.

For some, this event may be second nature, but for others, an advocacy day might be an entirely new concept. Whether you’re new to this type of event or simply need a refresher, we have put together some information about what you can expect for the 2018 Advocacy Day and why you should attend:

Why host an Advocacy Day in the first place?

There are many reasons to host an advocacy day. In particular, advocacy days:

  • Amplify causes by having a diverse, compelling group of individuals make their voices heard;
  • Allow individuals to have face time with those who are creating policy and making decisions about how federal dollars are spent;
  • Bring peers and colleagues together to network and share their experiences with one another; and
  • Provide an opportunity for individuals to hear about the latest developments in Washington, D.C. and how it may affect their home states.

What should I expect on the day of the event?

After breakfast, the day’s agenda will begin with a key issues briefing. Over the course of the morning, attendees will hear a legislative and political overview about what’s happening in Washington, receive a scientific update on the activities and research initiatives at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) from NIDCR Director Dr. Martha Somerman, and receive a message training about how to navigate the Hill the conduct meetings with staff.

Once we break from the morning’s briefing and lunch, attendees will head to their visits with congressional offices. AADR is aiming to book at least two meetings for each participant. These visits, scheduled with members’ elected official(s), provide a unique opportunity for attendees to share why they care about dental, oral and craniofacial research and why it is important for the government to fund it.

Why should I attend?

For AADR members, the fields of dental, oral and craniofacial research presumably have a large role to play in your life.

As a researcher, this field may be your livelihood.
As a student, this work may be integral to your future path.
As a patient advocate, this research may hold promise for the disease or condition that you and/or your organization are working to tackle.

Regardless of your connection to this field, your voice is central to elevating oral research on the Hill and ensuring that policymakers know why it should be funded. Members of Congress value and listen to constituents. You are the best stewards of this message. By participating in this event, you can help protect funding for dental research and keep it on the minds of policymakers over the course of the year.

Last year, AADR members conducted over 70 meetings with members of Congress and congressional staff. We’re aiming to conduct even more visits this year!

I’m in. Where do I sign up? 

Register by completing the registration form online. *Please note: your registration represents your professional commitment to attend. Last minute cancellations or failure to attend will harm our relationship with members of Congress and their staff. 

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact AADR Assistant Director of Government Affairs Lindsey Horan.

All of Us Research Program Seeks Input on Research Priorities

The All of Us Research Program aims to build one of the largest, most diverse datasets of its kind for health research, with one million or more volunteers nationwide, who will sign up to share their information over time. Researchers will be able to access participants’ de-identified information for a variety of studies to learn more about the biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence health and disease. Their findings may lead to more individualized health care approaches in the future.

Using IdeaScale, the All of Us Research Program is collecting ideas through a tool known as a “use case” that outlines and describes research questions that the All of Us Research Program could help answer.

The information provided will be used at the All of Us Research Priorities Workshop on March 21–23, 2018, to identify key research priorities and requirements (such as data types and methods) for future versions of the All of Us protocol.

You can ensure that dental, oral and craniofacial research is included in the All of Us Research Program by:

1. Voting for the following ideas submitted by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research by Friday, February 9:

2. Clicking here to be directed to IdeaScale, where you can see the ideas submitted by others or add your own idea by Friday, February 9.

3. Sending your idea to sajiboye@iadr.org that may be submitted on behalf of AADR by COB Friday, January 26.

Thank you for your engagement in this research initiative.

AADR submits comments to the Opioid Policy Steering Committee

AADR has submitted comments in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request for public comment on additional steps the FDA can take to reverse the opioid abuse epidemic. AADR’s comments strongly emphasized the need for both prescriber and patient training.

The FDA Opioid Policy Steering Committee (OPSC) was established in May 2017 and tasked with developing strategies for fighting the opioid abuse epidemic. The OPSC’s four focus areas are 1) decreasing exposure to opioids and preventing addiction; 2) supporting opioid use disorder treatment; 3) promoting the development of new, less addictive pain therapies and 4) improving enforcement and revisiting the benefit/risk assessment of opioid therapies.

The request for comment was a follow-up to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report, “Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use”. AADR member Dr. Eli Eliav, an orofacial pain researcher at the University of Rochester, was a member of the NAM committee.

In comments to the OPSC, AADR stressed the importance of controlling the opioid abuse epidemic while allowing access to opioids for patients who really need them for pain control. AADR supported the NAM committee recommendations for more research to better understand pain and opioid use disorders, the opioid epidemic and public health considerations to inform the regulatory process. AADR supported the recommendation by the American Dental Association that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be the first-line pain medication for acute dental pain and advocated for the implementation of a national, mandatory prescription drug monitoring program. AADR also recommended mandatory provider training on how to prescribe opioids, recognize possible abuse and treat chemically-dependent patients.

For AADR’s full letter to the OPSC, please click here.

AADR’s 2017 Advocacy Year in Review: Where We’ve Been and Where We Go from Here

In 2017, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) was presented with myriad opportunities to weigh in on issues with the potential to affect dental, oral and craniofacial research. In each instance – whether a partner coalition’s sign-on letter opportunity, a federal agency’s Request for Information or a federal policy or trend –AADR considered how its members, patients and public health could be affected and sought to provide comments reflective of our field’s values.

Over the year, some of our work mirrored advocacy efforts of years past (e.g., championing the highest possible funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research), but our efforts also expanded into newer territory (e.g., tax reform and the executive order suspending entry of certain foreign nationals into the United States).

Highlights of AADR’s advocacy in 2017 included:

For more information about each of these activities, view our one pager.

As we shift our focus to 2018, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to thank our AADR members and community for their partnership in advocacy in 2017. Advocacy makes a difference, and looking ahead, as we advocate for funding for NIH and NIDCR in an environment already wrought with fiscal austerity, we need your voice now more than ever!

In the coming weeks, Congress will work to tackle its already packed legislative agenda, which includes a deal to raise the spending caps, the January 19 deadline to fund the government and the need to find a long-term solution for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.The deadline for the release president’s fiscal year 2019 budget, which signals the administration’s priorities, is also on the horizon.

As in 2017, AADR remains committed to our government affairs and advocacy portfolio, and we will continue to carry the torch for this work and dental, oral and craniofacial research in 2018.