Higher Education Community Letters Supporting Temporary License Reciprocity for Healthcare Practitioners and Professionals

CGS signed-on to two higher education letters to the 117th Congress this week. In a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the higher education community expressed support for an amendment to the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (Prevent Pandemics Act). This amendment, which is known as the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment Act (TREAT Act), would establish a temporary license reciprocity for all practitioners or professionals (those who treat both physical and mental health conditions) in all states for in-person or telehealth visits during a declared national health emergency. The letter says, “Even as the use of telehealth and tele-mental health rose dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis, the patchwork of state and local licensing laws that restrict the provision of care across state lines via telehealth technology remains a significant barrier to timely access to vital physical and behavioral health care.” Please see the Committee’s press release for more information about the TREAT Act and  the Prevent Pandemics Act.

In the second letter to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, CGS and 15 other higher education associations expressed our concern about the Department of Veterans Affairs recent 85-15 policy reset and specifically, changes in the requirements for a 35 percent exemption. As stated in the letter, “Under the 85-15 rule, when the number of students receiving VA assistance makes up less than 35 percent of the total campus population, institutions are eligible for the 35 percent exemption, which makes them exempt from computing and reporting 85-15 ratios to the VA. Most of our institutions have student veteran populations that are less, and sometimes significantly less, than 35 percent of the total student populations. As part of the 85-15 reset, in October 2020 and again in October 2021, VA rescinded all 35 percent exemptions currently in effect and required institutions to reapply for the exemption. However, as part the new application, VA now requires campuses to provide 85-15 ratios for every program at the institution and to resubmit these calculations every two years. We have heard from many campuses and senior veterans’ program administrators who are confused by the VA’s new requirements, which appear directly at odds with both the regulations and legislative intent.”

The letter concludes by saying, “We understand that this week, VA plans to announce that it will be extending the deadline for applying for the 35 percent exemption until July 1. Over the next several months, VA will be reviewing its guidance for consistency and providing additional clarifications and training materials. Also, VA will work to improve the functionality of their current PDF application form to make it less cumbersome and will permit institutions to submit 85-15 ratios using an institutionally generated Excel spreadsheet. While we appreciate the VA’s efforts to address some of our concerns, we continue to believe that the reset exceeds VA’s statutory authority.”

Department of Education Report Identifying Federal Financial Assistance Programs for Infrastructure

The Department of Education issued a Federal Register notice on March 17 identifying financial assistance programs that allow for grant funds to be used for infrastructure projects. Programs identified within the Office of Postsecondary Education include the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions Program, Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program, and strengthening master’s degree programs at HBCUs. The latest FY22 appropriations omnibus for funding the federal government also increased investments in these much-needed programs. In the omnibus, there was a 42 percent increase in promoting postbaccalaureate opportunities for Hispanic Americans, $6 million increase in strengthening historically black graduate institutions, and a 35 percent increase in strengthening master’s degree programs at HBCUs.

National Science Foundation Establishes New Directorate

This week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the establishment of the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said of the new directorate, “NSF’s TIP Directorate will accelerate discovery and innovation to rapidly bring new technologies to market and address the most pressing societal and economic challenges of our time. By pursuing new approaches that engage the nation’s broad and diverse population in shaping research directions and outcomes, TIP will be a game-changer in terms of the pace of technological breakthroughs, future job growth and national competitiveness. We at NSF are grateful for the continued strong support from the Administration and Congress that has made this possibility a reality. We look forward to the passage of the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which will be the next critical step in ensuring TIP can generate a transformational evolution in translating America’s research to expand our economic leadership in the technologies of the future.” A link to the new directorate can be found here.

Even though Congress approved this new directorate in the recently passed and enacted FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations legislation, the actual mission of the directorate has yet to be determined. Provisions to establish the directorate can be found in the House-passed America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) and the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260). For more information about this new directorate, please see a recent article from the AIP Newsletter, “NSF Stands Up Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnership.”

Department of Education Webinar on Call to Action for Science Education

Recently, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine issued a report titled Call to Action for Science Education. The report seeks to advance science education programs and instruction in K-12 and post-secondary institutions in ways that will prepare students to face the global challenges of the future, both as engaged participants in society and as future STEM professionals. The Department of Education will host a webinar on the report on March 25 from 1:30 to 3:00 PM EST. To register for the event, click here.

PLEASE NOTE: Advisory Committee Meeting Announcements

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science issued notice of meetings in the Federal Register this week. The NSF’s STEM Education Advisory Panel will meet on April 27 from 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST. All visitors must register at least 48 hours before the meeting. To attend this virtual meeting in listen-in only mode, send your request to The final meeting agenda will be posted here. The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice to the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM) and to assess CoSTEM’s progress.

The NSF’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education will meet on April 19 from 11:00 AM-5:30 PM EST as well as April 20 from 11 AM-4:00 PM EST. Registration for the virtual meeting can be accessed here. The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight concerning support for environmental research and education.

The NSF’s Advisory Committee for Geosciences will meet on April 13 and April 14 from 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST. Meeting registration information is available here. The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight on support for geoscience research and education including atmospheric, geo-space, earth, ocean, and polar sciences.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee will meet on April 5 from 11 AM-5 PM EST. Meeting registration information is available here. The purpose of the advisory committee is to make recommendations to the Office of Science with respect to the basic energy sciences research program.