With the start of the Class of 2013-2014, we begin the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows. We have a number of events and activities planned to help recognize this important milestone. First and foremost is the Alumni Gathering on Tuesday, October 22, the day following the Annual Meeting of Institute of Medicine. Please mark your calendars, and, if at all possible, join in the fun! We are producing a video that will capture many of our fondest memories, and we will be spiffing up our website, brochure, and promotional materials. We want to take full advantage of social media and expand the networking capability of our alums to further their promoting the health of the nation.
Starting on Friday, September 6, with the release of the next Call for Applications, we officially open the application process for the Class of 2014-2015. I am asking each and every one of you to reach out to two people who you think might either be great candidates for the program or are in a position to identify new applicants. Remember, if you are an alumnus who is responsible for recruiting a successful applicant, you will be eligible for a fully reimbursed trip to next year’s Annual Meeting of the Institute of Medicine and the Alumni Retreat here in Washington DC in October 2014. But even better, through your recruitment efforts, you assure that we have the very best applicants for our beloved program. It is no secret that our most important way of getting the word out is through the efforts of those who have come (or is it gone?) before. You know best what this experience has meant in your life and you also know the type of individuals who can succeed in this exceptional opportunity. And to make your recruitment even easier, this year the Foundation has permitted us to raise the salary offset to $104,000 for the first year.
Finally, a word about what our most recent fellows have experienced. Anyone watching the national news knows that this country in general and Washington DC in particular is awash in partisanship that has everyone appropriately worried about the ability of the Congress to accomplish anything. At least, that is how it seems. What amazes me is that for the last two years, we have had health policy fellows serving on the majority and minority of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and they have found positive experiences among some of the most fractious politics of our time. Last year, Nancy Dunlap and Arun Patel helped craft the Prescription Drug User Fee Act that was successfully passed. And this yearSteve Ferarra and Harry Heiman helped to craft a physician reimbursement bill that was reported out of committee with a voting tally of 51-0. That’s right; it was a unanimous, full committee vote in favor of the bill – with the public acknowledgement of the contribution of our fellows, identified by name, by both Republican and Democratic members. Not bad at all.