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October 04, 2021

CME Coalition Endorses Several Bills in Congress Supporting CME

Credit: Policy & Medicine, Thomas Sullivan

A handful of proposed bills have been introduced this year in both chambers of the United States Congress that touch upon continuing medical education. In mid-September 2021, the CME Coalition sent several letters in support of those bills to the senators and congress people that introduced the bills. This article briefly discusses each of the bills and where they currently stand. Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Areas Act Introduced in the Senate on February 2, 2021, the Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Areas Act would direct the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to award up to 100 grants for providing accredited CME to federally qualified health centers (FQHC) or rural health clinics (RHC). In a letter sent to Senator Jacky Rosen, the CME Coalition expressed appreciation that she understands “the importance of enhancing physician access to independent continuing education, especially as a means of combatting rural health challenges and disparities” and noting that her leadership is “invaluable” to the group. The legislation was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Lower Costs, More Cures Act of 2021 Introduced in the United States House of Representatives on April 22, 2021, by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act of 2021 includes a provision that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to advance the education and awareness of health care providers of biosimilars, including by developing and improving continuing education programs. The legislation also provides credit under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program for health care professionals who receive education on biosimilars. In the letter sent to McMorris Rodgers, CME Coalition Executive Director Chris Lamond noted that the group “wholeheartedly” endorses the legislation and “believes that continuing medical education is an effective way to drive greater uptake of safe and effective biosimilars.” The legislation was referred to the Subcommittee on Health by the Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means. Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act of 2021 This legislation has been proposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and would mandate CME for the prescribing of opioids and other controlled substances as well as provide grant funding for professional associations to expand the integration of substance use disorder (SUD) education into the standard curriculum of health care education programs. In letters sent to Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Lori Trahan, CME Coalition Senior Advisor Andrew Rosenberg expressed appreciation for their understanding of the “importance of enhancing physician access to independent continuing education, especially as a means of combating the scourge of substance abuse disorder.” The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the Senate and the Subcommittee on Health in the House. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0 Act of 2021 This legislation has been introduced in a bipartisan fashion in both the House and the Senate. This legislation would require prescribers of controlled substances to complete their CME course work every three years and would also provide $5 million toward health education and training grants through the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). In letters sent to Senator Rob Portman and Representative David Trone, CME Coalition Executive Director Chris Lamond and Senior Advisor Andrew Rosenberg expressed willingness to work together to “drive greater support for the bill, as well as serving as a subject matter resource to you as the legislative process continues.” The Senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions while the House bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. What’s Next? While it’s hard to make predictions in the partisan climate of Capitol Hill, the CME Coalition offered in each of the letters to serve as a voice in support of the legislation and a willingness to act as a subject matter resource to the introducing Congress people and anyone else interested in learning more about how CME can benefit the medical profession and patients.