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& Community Relations
May 14, President Bush signed into law the Enhanced Border Security
and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, which contains several provisions
that are relevant to higher education. The new law requires student
visa applicants to provide additional information on their applications
including the names and addresses of spouse, children, parents,
and siblings; contacts within the country of residence who can
verify personal information; and previous work history.
measure requires the State Department and Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) to notify institutions when students have been issued
visas, and when these individuals enter the United States. Institutions
will be required to notify INS within 30 days if a student visa
holder fails to enroll. The Department of Education will also
be required to conduct regular reviews of institutions certified
to receive foreign students, to ensure that the institutions are
in compliance with recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
of the compliance with this law will be dependent on the Student
and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which INS expects
to be operational this fall. SEVIS is a nationwide electronic
tracking system for foreign students. The INS recently published
implementation regulations for SEVIS, which require that all higher
education institutions use the system by January 2003.
Areas of Study
Administration officials recently announced plans to implement
a Presidential Directive related to access by international students
to education and training in "sensitive areas of study."
The stated objective is to create a system that balances scientific
freedom and progress with national security.
plan focuses on creation of a new governmental entity to provide
an additional level of review for all student visas and visas
for postdoctoral students and researchers. The new mechanism will
be called Interagency Panel on Advancing Science and Security
applications will be flagged for IPASS review if certain criteria
are met during the regular review process. These criterion include:
being citizens of countries that are determined as suspicious
or dangerous, having past training in certain scientific areas,
and applying for study in areas that are "sensitive"
and "uniquely available in the United States." The Administration
has not yet determined which countries will raise red flags, and
has not yet defined which areas of study will be identified as
IPASS has completed its review of visa applicants, the findings
and recommendations will be forwarded to either the INS or the
State Department, depending on the circumstances, for further
action. IPASS is expected to review about 2,000 applications per
year. There is no timetable for implementation of IPASS.
will, under certain circumstances, review current visa holders
under the same procedures. This review will occur when students
apply for a change in status, or if irregularities or concerns
are brought to light through the Student Exchange Visitor Information
System (SEVIS) electronic tracking system for foreign students.
The parameters will be slightly different for graduate and undergraduate
in Student Visa Processing
the past months, the Department of State has implemented new policies
that affect the processing of student visas. Please keep these
in mind for students for the coming academic year.
farm bill signed by President Bush on May 13 permanently excludes
rats, mice, and birds from oversight under the Animal Welfare
Act (AWA). This development is a victory for the research community,
which has fought back efforts to include rats, mice, and birds
under the AWA that resulted from a lawsuit against the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This provision will retain
the 30-year policy of excluding rats, mice and birds from USDA
regulation and will prevent the implementation of additional,
burdensome paperwork requirements at our nation's biomedical research
facilities. The cost of this inclusion was expected to exceed
$100 million per year.
adjourning for Memorial Day recess, Congress approved bioterrorism
legislation that would give universities more responsibility for
guarding biological agents used in research. This legislation
is intended to address tracking of individuals who are working
with potentially dangerous biological materials.
new bioterrorism bill requires that every university and laboratory
working with biological material that could be used to pose a
public health threat--"select agents"--would be required
to register with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under current
law, only laboratories that send or receive "select agents"
must register. In addition, the legislation would impose new steps
designed to limit access to 42 biological agents including anthrax,
the Ebola virus, and smallpox.
bill would prohibit scientists from countries that are considered
state sponsors of terrorism (including Iraq and Iran) and any
individuals with criminal records from handling "select agents."
It would also implement a government-run screening process for
all scientists handling "select agents." However, the
legislation specifically states that any researchers who are in
the midst of a project will be permitted to continue their work
while the government performs its background checks. For new hires,
individuals will not be able to begin work until the background
screening is complete.
background check process will work as follows: universities will
submit names of researchers studying "select agents"
to the Department of Health and Human Services. Names of individuals
doing research on plant and animal pathogens will be submitted
to the Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Attorney General's
Office will then conduct the necessary background checks.
legislation includes an appeal process if the government denies
approval to a researcher. It also has a provision that would allow
scientists to work on "select agents" without being
screened in the case of an emergency.
measure represents a compromise between earlier versions that
had passed the House and the Senate. President Bush is expected
to sign the bill shortly. Thereafter, HHS and the USDA will publish
for comment the implementing regulations. The higher education
community will work closely with these departments on the implementation
process. We will keep the University community apprised of the
details as soon as they are available.
further information pertaining to these or other federal relations
issues, please contact Melissa Peerless at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (215) 898-1532.
Relations | Commonwealth Relations | City
& Community Relations
March 14, House Bill 1802 -- Medical Liability Reform was passed
by unanimous vote in the Senate and with only one negative vote
in the House. The final bill was an amended version of the reform
bill approved by the House and sent to the Senate on February
13. The bill was subsequently signed into law by the Governor
on March 20 as Act 13 of 2002.
1802 incorporates a number of limited tort reform measures. A
new provision bars causes of action seven years from the occurrence
of the event, with exceptions for minors and certain other circumstances.
There are new expert witness qualification requirements. The collateral
source rule that had prevented offsets to damages for medical
expense and lost earning recoveries by plaintiffs from third parties
has been eliminated. There are now periodic payments for future
medical expenses over $100,000. There is a new requirement that
trial courts must consider motions challenging a verdict as excessive
to evaluate its impact on availability or access to health care
in the community. The ostensible agency rule has been modified
setting a higher standard when hospitals can be held responsible
for the acts of non-employed physicians. Finally, HB 1802 creates
a committee to study jurisdiction/change of venue issues with
recommendations to be made by September 2002.
1802 also contains a number of measures relating to the Medical
Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss (CAT) Fund. The Fund is
transferred to the Insurance Department and the Department is
required to contract with a third party administrator to manage
settlement of the remaining cases. There is a reduction in Fund
coverage from $700,000 to $500,000 effective January 1, 2003 with
a reduction in provider coverage to $1 million per occurrence/$3
million aggregate ($4 million for hospitals). The Fund will be
phased out over the next seven years with changes to the levels
of primary coverage physicians will have to obtain increasing
to $1 million effective January 1, 2009. The Insurance Commissioner
can suspend the phase-out if there is not available medical liability
coverage in the commercial market. Experience ratings will be
used for providers to increase the relative level of surcharges
for providers with multiple paid claims from the Fund. The Fund
surcharge is capped, in the aggregate, at 95% of the 2001 surcharge
for 2002 and at 90% for 2003 and 2004. Starting in 2004 and continuing
for 10 years, $37 million from the Auto CAT Fund will be used
to reduce Fund liabilities, reducing the level of the surcharge.
The Auto CAT Fund dollars will be allocated in a manner such that
50% will be used to reduce surcharges for hospitals and at-risk
specialists (surgeons, obstetricians, etc.) with the result that
the surcharge reduction for those "at risk" providers
will be significantly more than for all other providers.
are new professional board reporting requirements relating to
complaints and disciplinary actions against physicians, midwives
and podiatrists, including mandatory reports from the CAT Fund
on any providers with more than three paid claims from the Fund.
There will be increased fines for professional practice act violations
as well as new continuing education requirements for providers.
1802 establishes a new 11-member Patient Safety Authority appointed
by the Governor and the Legislature and chaired by the Physician
General to be funded by facility license surcharges (up to $5
million in total expenses). The legislation requires reporting
to the Authority by hospitals, birthing centers and ambulatory
care facilities (ACFs) of serious events (occurrences that
are undesirable and result in death or injury that require additional
medical care) and incidents (occurrences that are undesirable
that could have resulted in injury). HB 1802 permits anonymous
reports to be made to the Authority and for the Authority to investigate
reports if not satisfied with the report from the providers. A
medical facility can be fined up to $1,000 per day for failure
to report. Hospitals, birthing centers and ASFs are required to
develop patient safety plans (to be approved by the Department
of Health) for the purpose of improving "the health and safety"
of patients and the bill requires the establishment of a patient
safety committee and the appointment of a patient safety officer.
Of great import to providers, HB 1802 protects the confidentiality
of information generated to comply with the new patient safety
requirements, except original source documents (e.g., medical
records). Also, HB 1802 requires the Insurance Department to establish
a patient safety discount for those providers that adopt measures
that reduce medical errors and improve patient safety.
University of Pennsylvania Health System, along with other providers
in the Commonwealth, continue to experience extraordinarily high
medical liability costs. Some private practice physicians, especially
in certain subspecialties, have not been able to obtain commercial
coverage at any price. It remains to be seen whether HB 1802 will
have any significant immediate or long-term effect on the cost
of medical professional liability coverage or access to that coverage.
The Health System and the University will continue to work as
an institution and through various advocacy coalitions to address
unresolved medical malpractice issues and the overall health care
delivery system and economic stability of hospitals and health
Relations | Commonwealth Relations | City
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and Community Relations
first phase of the City of Philadelphia's $3 million Walnut West
Library renovation project is currently underway. The building
design restores the original 40th Street entrance as well as the
skylights, and provides a modern, state-of-the-art public library
facility for West Philadelphia. Throughout the summer, the demolition
phase of the project will move forward, allowing for the removal
of materials from the interior of the building. By mid-August,
the building will be secured while the design is finalized. The
one-year construction phase is scheduled to begin in December
2002. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, the Friends of the Walnut
West Library, and the University City Historical Society, who
worked passionately to champion this project, expect the renovated
facility to reopen in early 2004.
are on display at the library branch at 3927 Walnut Street. Please
note that the Friends of Walnut West Library will now hold their
Friday afternoon book sales on the lawn between DuBois House and
the library building while construction activity is underway.
Year Day of Service
culminating event of City Year's week-long convention, Cyzygy
details in this issue) will be a high-impact day of community
service to be run at nine different schools and day care centers
throughout West Philadelphia. The "City Year Day of Service",
on Saturday, June 8, will tap the power of the entire City Year
national network to revitalize communities through projects at
the following schools: Lea Elementary, West Philadelphia High,
The Penn-Assisted School, Parent-Infant Center, University City
High, Drew Elementary, The Walnut Center, Powel Elementary, and
McMichael Elementary. The projects were designed in partnership
with principals, students and other community organizations at
each of these locations. It is estimated that these efforts will
impact the lives of over 7,000 children.
Year is looking to engage members of the West Philadelphia community
in working with its "corps members" during planned service
activities. These activities include: