ASN Health and Nutrition Policy Newsletter
Week of
June 17 , 2019        
American Society for Nutrition Newsletter

June 2019
In This Issue
Congressional Action
Administrative Action
National Initiatives
Funding Opportunities
Congressional Action
House Passes Legislation to Strengthen Health Care
By a vote of 234-183, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 987 , the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, that requires the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") to conduct outreach and educational activities about the availability of coverage and related financial assistance under the federally-facilitated health exchanges operated by HHS within states. The bill also reverses the Trump administration's rule that allows for greater use of short-term health plans, which are not subject to the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and the requirement that plans cover essential health benefits. In the Senate, the bill has been referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Disaster Appropriations Bill Signed by President
The President signed H.R. 2157 , a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill, that includes a broad array of measures to help meet the urgent needs of disaster-stricken communities through funding for health care, social services, infrastructure repairs, and disaster nutritional assistance, specifically for Puerto Rico and other islands.
House Funding Updates
1)      FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill
The House Appropriations Committee passed the nearly $1 trillion Fiscal Year ("FY") 2020 Labor, Health and Education Appropriations bill. H.R. 2740 bans funding for the Trump administration's effort to expand the availability of short-term insurance plans. The levels of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies remained the same as detailed in the May 13 ASN Policy Brief and the Committee report . This week the House is expected to consider a "minibus" spending package that includes the Labor-HHS spending bill, but unsettled business about the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding for abortion remains a barrier.
2)      New Caps for FY 2020 Appropriations Set
The House Appropriations Committee approved the Revised Suballocation of Budget Allocations for FY 2020 bill that establishes the budget caps for the FY 2020 appropriations bills. The Senate postponed work on any appropriations bill until budget caps have been approved by both chambers and the President. To date, the lack of agreement on budget caps threatens to derail FY 2020 appropriations, according to a Washington Post article .
3)      House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2020 Agriculture Funding Bill
By a vote of 29 to 21, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, H.R. 3164 during a mark-up of the Subcommittee passed bill . The Agriculture funding bill will be combined with the Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development FY2020 funding bills into a second "minibus" bill. Consideration of this appropriations package, H.R. 3055 may begin Wednesday, June 19. A division-by-division summary is below and available as a PDF  here .
Relevant highlights related to funding for Agriculture agencies and FDA from the agriculture funding report appear below:
  • Blocks U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA")'s proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service ("ERS") and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture ("NIFA") outside the National Capital Region.
  • Blocks USDA's proposal to put ERS, currently under USDA's research mission area, under the Office of the Chief Economist and the Office of the Secretary.
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service ("ARS") receives $1.394 billion that includes investment in ARS buildings and facilities which is included to address deferred maintenance needs. "The Committee does not accept the proposed termination of research programs or closure of research locations and it directs ARS to provide a brief to the Committee on its ongoing efforts to assess and prioritize research across all its ongoing programs."
  • FDA receives a total of $3.26 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, $184 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • Omits a provision to prohibit the use of funds for research into the genetic modification of human embryos.
  • NIFA will receive $1.033 billion ($58 million above the budget request) of which the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative ("AFRI") received $445 million, a $30 million increase over FY 2019. The Committee noted that "AFRI should continue funding programs to address childhood obesity prevention and community health promotion in remote areas and among native and underserved populations." The Committee also "notes that research into plant-based protein-rich foods for human consumption is also eligible."
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ("WIC") will receive $6 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $75 million below the FY 2019 enacted level because of declining enrollments in the program.
  • Child nutrition programs receive $23.956 billion in required mandatory funding and $873 million above the FY 2019 enacted level. This funding will provide free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for children who qualify for the program.
Better Data Act Introduced
Senators Tim Kaine (D, VA), Johnny Isakson (R, GA), and Angus King (I, ME) co-sponsored the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act that would help modernize the public health data infrastructure by authorizing $100 million per year for each FY 2020 through 2024. The House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill contains this funding to enhance interoperability, improve data collection and analysis, simplify provider reporting, promote electronic case reporting, and support earlier disease detection and response at the CDC and state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments.
Senate Activity Related to Relocation of USDA Research Agencies
Senators Tom Carper (D, DE), Debbie Stabenow (D, MI), and others requested USDA provide information on all costs related to relocation of the ERS and NIFA outside of the National Capital Region, the rationale behind the decision made by USDA to relocate both agencies, the ability of USDA to carry out its research mission, a comprehensive timeline of relocation plans, and whether or not USDA is following the requirements and practices related to property leasing and management for federal agencies. Concerns in these areas led to House appropriators blocking the transfer of these two agencies. The next section includes the USDA's current action on the move and links to the cost-benefit analysis that USDA provided.
House Hearing Focused on Relocation of USDA Research Agencies
The House Agriculture Committee's Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee held a hearing , "Examining the Impacts of Relocating USDA Research Agencies on Agriculture Research." The members heard from Dr. Jack M. Payne, University of Florida, Dr. William F. Tracy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ms. Elizabeth Brownlee, Owner of Nightfall Farm in Crothersville, Indiana. All voiced opposition to the move.
USDA Administrator Testifies on Child Nutrition Programs
The House Education and Labor Committee Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services held its second hearing , "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)." After the testimony  of Brandon Lipps, Administrator, FNS and Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, the Committee members asked questions regarding the final rules that provide flexibility to adherence to nutrition standards for school meals, proposed restrictions in community eligibility, program integrity efforts, needs to expand summer food program, and the impact of the farm to school program. Both Chairman Suzanne Bonamici (D, OR) and Ranking Member James Comer (R, KY) committed to developing a bi-partisan bill to move through the House and onto the Senate.

Hearing Focuses on Maternal Mortality
The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing , "Overcoming Racial Disparities and Social Determinants in The Maternal Mortality Crisis" to examine the problem of maternal mortality in the United States. A broad array of witnesses included an Olympic athlete, leaders from the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and representatives from schools of public health and state departments of health that identified racial disparities, a lack of Medicaid coverage for mothers, and inadequate standards to improve data quality of maternal mortality statistics. The recently introduced Community Access to Resources and Education (CARE) for Families Act calls for key investments in community health partnerships led by WIC and improved access to quality nutrition and health care services throughout pregnancy and post-partum.

Administrative Action
ERS and NIFA Slated to move to Kansas City Region
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the relocation of the ERS and NIFA to the Kansas City Region. Among many assets in the region, the Secretary pointed to the significant presence of USDA and federal government employees and the existence of multiple land-grant and research universities close-by. USDA also released a   Cost Benefit Analysis and this letter from  Secretary Perdue to all USDA employees. Recently, NIFA employees voted overwhelmingly to unionize and join the American Federation of Government Employees that ERS had voted to join earlier.
Register Now for DGAC Meeting 2
USDA and HHS invite the public to register to attend the second meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The meeting, which includes an opportunity for oral comments from the public, will be held at USDA headquarters in the Jefferson Auditorium on July 10 and 11. Registration for in-person attendance closes at 5:00 p.m. July 1, 2019. Prior to this deadline, the public can also sign up, on a first come, first served basis, to provide oral public comments to the committee during the meeting's second day. Please visit DietaryGuidelines.gov for full registration details. The meeting will be webcast live and a recording of the meeting will be made available later.
This is the second of five meetings scheduled for the committee. An ongoing public comment period will remain open throughout the committee's deliberations to ensure the public can submit comments. The full list of remaining meetings includes:
  • July 10-11, 2019 - USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC
    • Register to present oral comments by July 1, 2019
  • October 24-25, 2019 - USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC
  • January 23-24, 2020 - USDA Agricultural Research Service in Houston, TX
    • Register to present oral comments by January 14, 2020
  • March 12-13, 2020 - USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC
HHS Further Restricts Use of Fetal Tissue
HHS released a statement that restricts federal use of fetal tissue obtained from abortions, barring government scientists at NIH from doing such research, and canceling an existing HIV research contract with the University of California, San Francisco. HHS will "impose new ethics reviews on government-funded research at universities and other scientific centers seeking to use fetal tissue, potentially affecting more than $100 million in contracts. No current NIH-funded extramural research projects (conducted outside NIH) will be affected during their currently approved project period; but, for new extramural research grant applications or current research projects in the competitive renewal process that propose to use fetal tissue from elective abortions, an ethics advisory board will be convened to review the research proposal and recommend whether NIH should fund the research project." HHS will also continue funding ongoing efforts to support the development of alternative models to human fetal tissue.
NIH Director Takes on Diversity Directly
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, announced "when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same." He intends to change the culture and climate of biomedical research to create an inclusive and diverse workforce, as recommended in the recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, " Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequence in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine ."
On June 13 and June 14 , the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) held meetings that included an interim update from the Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, interim results from the 2019 NIH Workplace Climate Survey , and a report from the Working Group on Foreign Influence. During the ACD, the Office of Science Policy also introduced a new resource website highlighting the important contributions of Henrietta Lacks and the cells (HeLa) derived from tumor tissue to biomedical research.
NSF Accepting Comments on Award Policy and Procedures
The National Science Foundation ("NSF") is accepting comments on draft updates to its " Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide " (PAPPG) through July 29. Additional highlights can be found in articles published in   Nature  and  Science .
HHS Seeks Input on Health Literacy Definition
HHS invites comments on a proposed new health literacy definition for Healthy People 2030. "Health literacy occurs when a society provides accurate health information and services that people can easily find, understand, and use to inform their decisions and actions." Read the full request for comments and find instructions on how to comment in the Federal Register . Comments are due July 20, 2019
FDA Hears Public Concerns and Suggestions about Cannabis
On May 31, 2019, the FDA held a public hearing on Scientific Data and Information about Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-Derived Compounds to gain advice on the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. The opening remarks by Dr. Ned Sharpless, Acting FDA Commissioner, are available here and a recording of the entire hearing is available in four distinct segments. The hearing transcript and slide decks should become available in approximately 30 days.
Comments Due on Poverty Inflation Adjustment
On May 7, the White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB) published a  45-day request  for comments on possible changes to the way the poverty measure is adjusted for inflation. According to the National Women's Law Center and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, such changes could cause, over time, underserved people to  lose access to SNAP   and other  important supports , particularly those who rely on Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Program. A webinar  whose participants include a Senior Vice President at United Way Worldwide (Dr. Aaron-Dine), an MIT economist and others provides additional information. Comments are due by June 21.
ERS Issues Several Reports and Apps
County level population change, poverty rates, education attainment, and unemployment rates/median household income information are available on this app.
State Fact Sheets
Data on population, income, poverty, food security, education, employment, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and agricultural exports are available for all States, and for metro/non-metro breakouts within States on this app.
From 2008 to 2010, SNAP redemptions had a positive average impact on county-level employment.
New Diabetes Cases Dropped Over Last Decade
Using the National Health Interview data from 1980 to 2017, a new report in the British Medical Journal's Open Diabetes Research and Care stated that "after an almost 20-year increase in the national prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes, an 8-year period of stable prevalence and a decrease in incidence has occurred. Causes of the plateauing and decrease are unclear; but the overall burden of diabetes remains high and deserves continued monitoring and intervention."
Overall Cancer Mortality Continues to Decline
The latest NIH National Cancer Institute's Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer finds that, "for all cancer sites combined, cancer death rates continued to decline in men, women, and children in the United States from 1999 to 2016. Overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, decreased in men from 2008 to 2015, after increasing from 1999 to 2008, and were stable in women from 1999 to 2015."

National Initiatives
Nutrition Supports for Health Clinics Toolkit
The University of South Carolina School of Public Health Implementing Agency developed a toolkit of healthy eating policy, systems, and environmental change strategies.These strategies are encouraged by the national SNAP-Ed program for obesity prevention and addressing food insecurity. Download the   toolkit here .
The Nexis Between Climate Change and Health Supported
The American Public Health Association and American Lung Association published the blog post Why Climate Change is a Health Priority  that highlights the critical work of CDC's Climate and Health Program and reiterates the need for a broader budget deal to increase federal spending to ensure CDC's work is successful.
Faith-Health Collaboration to Improve Community and Population Health 
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published the  Proceedings of a Workshop   held on March 22, 2018 that explored challenges and opportunities for health sector actors that engage with faith-based health assets in communities and their relationship to population health and the work of health improvement.

National Council on Vital and Health Statistics Meeting on HIPAA
June 5-6, 2019
Recording and minutes here .
2019 AFRI Food Safety, Nutrition & Health Program
USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
June 11, 2019
Recorded webinar available here .
Health-Focused Public-Private Partnerships in the Urban Context
June 13-14, 2019
Recordings available here .
Oral Health, Food Insecurity, And Malnutrition
West Health Institute
June 18, 2019, 1:00PM ET [Webinar]
HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
June 20, 2019, 12:30 p.m. ET [Webinar]
National Research Conference on Early Childhood 2020
June 22-24, 2020
Arlington, VA
HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
June 26, 2019, 12:00-4:00 pm ET [Webinar]
Bipartisan Policy Center
June 28, 2019, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET
National Press Club, Holeman Lounge
529 14th St NW, Washington DC 20045 
Society for Public Health Education
July 2, 2019, 2:00-3:00 pm ET
July 18, 2019, 12:00-1:15pm EDT [Webinar]
Media and Medicine Program
Harvard Medical School
October 14-18, 2019 and April 25-26, 2020
Boston, MA

Funding Opportunities
Regional Planning Grants in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware
Wells Fargo is awarding regional planning grants in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to improve the quality of life for children and families living in low-income communities in by concentrating resources on comprehensive, neighborhood-based economic and community development initiatives. Click here for more information. Proposals are due August 30, 2019.

The European Food Safety Authority released the 2019 Eurobarometer on Food Safety . Here are some selected results from 2019 survey compared to 2010 results:
  • In Europe, scientists (82% - an increase from 73% in 2010), consumer organizations (79%) and farmers (69%) enjoy the highest levels of trust among Europeans when it comes to information on food risks.
  • Trust in both national authorities (60%) and European Union institutions (58%) are quite high and in line with the 2010 results; yet, Europeans have quite limited understanding of how the EU food safety system works.
  • Television remains the main source of information about food risks for seven in ten of all Europeans; more younger people turn to social media.
  • The most important factors for Europeans when buying food are where the food comes from (53%), cost (51%), food safety (50%) and taste (49%). Nutritional content is slightly less important (44%), while ethics and beliefs rank lowest (19%).
  • Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) have changed their consumption after receiving information about a food risk. For 33% the change was permanent; for the other 33% only for a while.
  • The most frequently cited concerns are 'antibiotic, hormone or steroid residues in meat' (44%), 'pesticide residues in food' (39%), 'environmental pollutants in fish, meat or dairy' (37%) and 'additives like colors, preservatives or flavorings used in food or drinks' (36%).