Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Emily McCloskey February 12, 2018

Hill Happenings

Budget Deal and Appropriations

Last week, Congress finalized a two-year deal to lift strict budget caps on defense and domestic spending, likely putting an end to a series of short-term spending bills and shutdown fights. The bill, Bipartisan Act of 2018, will extend funding for the federal government through March 23 at FY2017 funding levels. The Senate voted 71-28 to approve their CR before the House voted 240-186. The President signed the bill.

Highlights of the budget deal include:

  • The deal will increase defense and domestic spending by roughly $300 billion over two years.
  • $3 billion for FY2018 and $3 billion for FY2019 “to combat the substance abuse epidemic, including enhanced state grants (with additional assistance for those states with the highest mortality rates and tribes), public prevention programs, and law enforcement activities related to substance abuse and mental health programs.”
  • $89.3 billion in additional emergency disaster relief for states and communities affected by recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
    • $4.9 billion in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, and a 100% federal cost share for Medicaid while they recover from the hurricane disaster
  • Extending funding for Community Health Centers ($7 billion in total funding) and an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beyond the six-year CHIP reauthorization enacted into law earlier this year.
  • Closing the Medicare Part D "donut hole" in 2019
  • Sexual Risk Avoidance Program (Abstinence Only): Provides $75 million in FY18 and FY19.
  • The Senate bill also restores funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) in FY2019-FY2021 and cuts $1.35 billion from FY2022-FY2027.
  • The limit on federal borrowing (debt limit) is suspended through March 1, 2019.

While the budget deal has bipartisan support, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) took the House floor for a one-minute speech and spoke for eight hours and 10 minutes. She protested the lack of protection for the Dreamers in ongoing budget talks. Speaker Ryan (R-WI-1) vowed to vote on legislation to protect the young immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Presidential Appointments

Dr. Brett Giroir has been confirmed as the new Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. He was confirmed on Wednesday by voice vote. He will also serve as Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) oversees 12 core public health office, including the Office of the Surgeon General and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), as well as 10 regional health offices across the nation and 10 presidential and secretarial advisory committees.

NASTAD will write Dr. Giroir to share NASTAD priorities and seek opportunities for collaboration.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)

NASTAD, in observation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), sent a letter to Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members calling on them “to maintain its commitment and history of advocacy for HIV programs that are culturally competent and effective.”

Right to Try Laws

Right to Try” laws, which aim to make it easier for terminally ill patients to get access to experimental drugs, is a policy that President Trump mentioned during his State of the Union Address on January 30. Right to try laws have passed in 38 states. The bill for the federal law was passed by the Senate in August and has been introduced in the House.

Administration Activities  

Office of National Drug Control Policy

The White House has announced that James Carroll will serve as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Carroll, who currently serves as White House deputy chief of staff, must be confirmed by the Senate. President Trump's first nominee for that post, Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA-10), withdrew last year

President’s Budget

Today, the President will release his FY2019 Budget Request, which details budget priorities for the Administration. NASTAD will be conducting an analysis of the Budget Request and will provide more details as they become available.

Title X

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are assuring Family Planning providers set to run out of federal funding this spring that there will be no gaps in services. The Title X Family Planning Grants notice of funding opportunity has not yet been released, though the current grant cycle expires on March 31.

NASTAD in the News

$100 million needed to fight HIV, HCV outbreaks due to opioids, organizations say

“As governments across the nation focus on the opioid epidemic and the prevention of overdoses, the leading infectious disease organizations issued statements urging Congress to provide $100 million for the CDC’s Viral Hepatitis programs to prevent further outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV due to injection drug use.”

On Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, activists say fight is not over

"[Terrance] Moore also pointed out that HIV and AIDS do not exist in isolation. “In this particular population of men, individuals don’t have access to high-quality health care or insurance, or the information about what it means to be virally suppressed,” he said."

News Bulletin

PrEP

Last Wednesday, Publix announced that it is changing its policy to cover PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in its employee insurance plan.\