The Department of Defense is prohibited from expending any funds towards the disestablishment of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology until the Joint Pathology Center has been established, with an exception for relocation of the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, according to a provision in emergency supplemental legislation signed by the President over the July 4 Congressional recess.
The provision is a victory for the College-led Coalition to Preserve the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, compromised of approximately 35 medical specialty organizations, disease groups, and veterans’ organizations.
The Coalition initially succeeded in the addition of language to the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the federal government to establish the JPC, a facility similar in mission and function to AFIP.
The DoD has 180 days from passage of this legislation—a timeframe set to expire in late July—to determine if they can establish the JPC. If not, they must notify the President—who then in turn must direct establishment of the facility under another federal agency.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the disestablishment of AFIP in July 2005. Disestablishment, without creating a new facility with a similar mission like the JPC, would threaten the education, consultation, and research services AFIP currently provides to the civilian, military, and veterans communities.
The College advocates that critical functions of AFIP must continue to operate as a whole in order to preserve it as a world-renown biomedical resource within the DoD and an irreplaceable asset for all segments of the health care community.
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) played a critical role in inserting the JPC establishment language into the authorization bill, as well as their overall leadership and provided leadership in protecting the mission and function of AFIP.