Dean's Weekly Message

Dec. 4, 2017


Dear colleague: 


The U.S. Senate last week passed legislation that would change federal tax law and could have a profound impact on the University of Colorado. Previously, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version of proposed tax law changes. The House bill calls for eliminating the income tax deduction for student loan interest, repealing the lifetime learning credit and raising taxes on graduate students by counting tuition waivers as taxable income. In a November 10 letter to the Colorado congressional delegation, CU President Bruce Benson and all four chancellors of the CU system asked the lawmakers to retain the current provisions of tax law because that framework “encourages saving for higher education, helps students pay for college, and assists borrowers as they repay student loans.” Other provisions in the House version of the tax bill could affect the tax deductibility of charitable contributions and the tax-exempt bond financing CU depends on to construct buildings. The Senate’s version of the tax code overhaul also “would negatively impact our students and campuses,” according to a November 20 letter to Sen. Cory Gardner from President Benson and the chancellors. That letter and a similar one to Sen. Michael Bennet outline some specific concerns: “These include provisions that will limit our ability to make critical infrastructure investments; discourage private investment in CU’s teaching, research, public service, and patient care missions; and increase university costs and administrative burden that will harm our students and local communities.” I would encourage you to read those letters to understand the potential consequences to our University. Another note about the Senate’s version: It repeals the individual mandate for health insurance required by the Affordable Care Act, which government analysts say would increase the number of uninsured people by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. These proposed changes will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our School and clinical partners. We stand ready to address these challenges and, with our University leadership, we will continue to engage politicians who are making these decisions. 

While much attention in Washington, D.C., has been focused on changing federal tax laws, minimal progress has been made to renew federal funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is designed to serve people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for private insurance. Congress let CHIP expire in September and has not yet come up with a plan for its future. As a result of inaction by lawmakers, people who depend on that program – many of whom are our patients – are now being warned to prepare for the loss of that health insurance coverage. Last week, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing began sending letters to people who depend on its Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program to notify them that  they should start researching private health insurance options. Currently, more than 75,000 children and nearly 800 pregnant women are enrolled in CHP+ program. In early November, Jena Hausmann, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado, wrote a column in the Denver Post raising concerns about this issue: “The lack of urgency at the federal level to get this done is alarming to me, to the patients we care for every day at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and to communities across the state.” 

Congratulations to three School of Medicine faculty members who have been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI): Robert Doebele, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology; Oliver Eickelberg, MD, head of the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Medicine; and Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology.  Founded in 1908, the ASCI is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies for physician-scientists. About 40 members of the School of Medicine faculty have been elected to the Society for their outstanding scholarly achievements in biomedical research. 

Congratulations to Greg Glazner, senior professional research associate (PRA) in the Advanced Light Microscopy Core, who on Friday received the Steven Fadul Award, which is bestowed annually on an outstanding PRA or technical research staffer who demonstrates technical expertise and personal skills that support and encourage the investigators with whom they work. Greg has been with the core for more than seven years, joining after he retired from a career as a statistician and subsequently earning a master’s degree in engineering with an emphasis on optics. In nominating him for the award, Greg’s colleagues cited his skill, creativity, dedication, and passion. During his time in the core, he has assisted more than 900 users. Greg is a respected colleague and a worthy recipient of the Fadul Award. 

Michael Holers, MD, professor of medicine, has been recognized as a Master of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), one of the highest honors the college bestows. The designation of master is conferred on ACR members, age 65 or older by October 1 of the year in which they are nominated, who have made outstanding contributions to the ACR and the field of rheumatology through scholarly achievement and/or service to their patients, students, and profession. Mike is one of 26 people who were awarded the designation at this year’s annual meeting in San Diego. 

Kathy Howell has been named UCHealth’s chief nursing executive and the chief nursing officer for University of Colorado Hospital. Kathy has previously been the chief nursing executive for Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Mo., where she led the nursing operations for nine hospitals. She has 29 years of experience in nursing leadership roles. Her first day will be January 2. 

Our School’s medical students gathered on Saturday night for the annual Medical Student Council winter event, the Gala at Gatsby’s at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Over 350 students, guests, and faculty were in attendance to enjoy exhibits at the museum, food, dancing, and photo booth fun. The event was a great way for our students to unwind and take a needed break from their busy schedules. Thank you to the MSC Events Committee and the Office of Student Life for their work in putting on this event. 

Pianos, digital pianos and orchestral strings will be available for public purchase beginning Thursday, December 7, through Saturday, December 9, at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities. Since opening in 2012, the Fulginiti has had the use of new pianos through a partnership between the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Rockley Family Foundation. The instrument sale perpetuates the program and provides scholarship money for music students. The “private sale” runs Thursday through Saturday morning. To schedule a time, call 303-724-7591. The final day of sale is open without an appointment from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

I would like to thank Tobia and Morton Mower for sharing etchings by Rembrandt on our campus this fall. Last Friday, December 1, was the final day for the exhibition of more than 50 etchings, which were on display in the Art Gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities. During his lifetime, Rembrandt was famous for his etchings and we are fortunate to have the Mowers share their diverse collection, which includes landscapes, portraits and biblical scenes. Morton is an adjunct distinguished professor of cardiology and co-inventor of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator. His wife, Tobia, has been a nurse for 25 years and an advocate for substance abuse treatment. Their daughter, Robin, is a clinical oncology pharmacist and a graduate of the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.  


Have a good week, 

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine


The Dean’s weekly message is an email news bulletin from John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members, staff, students and others about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service.  See the UCH-Insider →


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