FIU in D.C.: Promoting healthcare solutions, protecting Florida’s coastline, serving our student veterans

The work of advancing the FIU cause in D.C. continues to move forward. As Congress moves forward considering appropriations bills and a decision on Stafford Loans remains stalled, FIU advocates did their part to promote healthcare solutions, protect Florida’s coastline, better serve our student veterans, and launch the Office of Federal Relations’ annual D.C. Summer Internship Experience.

Student Financial Aid and Research Appropriations
: The bipartisan effort to forestall the imminent Stafford Loan rate increase remains unresolved, with both sides of the aisle and chambers offering competing proposals on the method to pay for maintaining the current rate at 3.4 percent. It is expected that both chambers will come to a compromise this month, but if Congress does not act by July 1, 2012, the rate for undergraduate subsidized Stafford Loans will increase to 6.8 percent. To learn more about FIU’s role in financial aid advocacy, please see the FIU in D.C. Financial Advocacy Page. FIU has been active  advocating for funding levels and report language that would support innovation, scientific investments and our own research agenda. Of note are the potential for greater investments for STEM education, neuro-prosthetics research and forensics sciences — three of our priorities this Congress. Although most of the appropriations bills are not expected to become law until after this year’s presidential elections, our team continues to monitor bills and ensure support for our initiatives.

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) advances solutions: Graduate Medical Education + NeighborhoodHELP
: With our College of Medicine approaching its first graduation, HWCOM associate dean and CEO of FIU Health Fernando Valverde and HWCOM Assistant Vice President Michelle Palacio briefed staff members of the Florida Congressional Delegation on a potential demonstration project to fund graduate medical education (GME) that was made possible by action in this year’s Florida legislative session. This plan would allow Medicaid savings to be directed to FIU and a partner federally qualified health center to be invested in psychiatry residencies for FIU medical students. Although universities like FIU are aiding in the production of more medical graduates, the state still faces a shortage of nearly 3,000 GME-funded residencies. The result is that students must leave the state for residency training, which increases greatly the chances of their establishing permanent practice elsewhere.  Additionally, the team provided an update on the innovative Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP program and alarming early findings on late-stage breast cancer diagnosis in the zone.

Cuban Oil Drilling
: Applied Research Center Executive Director John Proni testified this week before the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR) regarding the potential impact of Cuban oil drilling and the joint consortium plan for early monitoring being led by FIU and Nova Southeastern. Considering the uniqueness of Florida’s coastline and the currents in the Florida Straits, chronic effects from drilling could cause serious ecological issues in South Florida.

Entrepreneurial Training for Our Veterans: FIU continues to be a leader in veterans’ initiatives and advocacy continues in Washington, D.C. This week, Jerry Haar led a discussion with representatives from the Defense Department on potential investments for small businesses in partnership with the Small Business Administration. FIU currently has more than 1,100 students who are receiving veterans’ benefits and university researchers are working with the Department of Defense to expand related research. Examples of this collaboration include Ranu Jung’s revolutionary research in neuroprosthetics.

Summer Internship Experience: As a wonderful capstone to a busy week, the FIU in D.C. team launched the second iteration of the D.C. Summer Internship Experience with an orientation and alumni meet-and-greet reception. This summer, more than 40 FIU students are interning in the nation’s capital at locations ranging from Capitol Hill to federal agencies to the White House. The Federal Relations Office is working with the D.C. Alumni Chapter and the Offices of Career Services and Undergraduate Studies to provide networking, programming and educational opportunities this summer to complement the work experience of these interns in their respective offices. For a current list of interns in D.C., or to refer any students to this opportunity, click here.

To follow legislative developments to check out photos from this week, follow us on Twitter @FIUdc 
or on the FIU Governmental Relations Facebook page.