Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir November 9, 2020

Hill Happenings

FY2021 Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to release all 12 of their FY2021 spending this week. This will set the table for bicameral omnibus negotiations in the lame duck session, with the current continuing resolution (CR) extending government funding through December 11th. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-13) said Friday she still wants both chambers to fund the government with a full spending deal, “not a CR,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has agreed.

Congressional Election Results

Several House races are still undecided, but Democrats are expected to keep control. Republicans picked up several House districts but did not net the 17 seats they needed to gain the majority. Control of the Senate is still unknown with two uncalled seats (Alaska and North Carolina) and two runoffs in Georgia. The runoff races in Georgia will take place on January 5, 2021, so the Senate make up will not be final until then. While it remains likely that Republicans will remain in control of the Senate, if Democrats win both run off races, they will gain control of the Senate with Vice-President-elect Harris serving as tiebreaker. NASTAD provided this outline of the election results.

Senator Introduces Bill to Collect and Report 340B Hospital Data

Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced legislation, the Fair Care Act of 2020, to require 340B disproportionate share, children’s, and free-standing cancer hospitals to report data from their main and child sites on patient insurance status, charity care costs, and aggregate acquisition costs and reimbursements for 340B drugs. Under the bill, disproportionate share, children’s, and free-standing cancer hospitals would have to report “the name of all third-party vendors or other similar entities that the covered entity contracts with” for 340B program services.

COVID-19 Relief Updates

Congressional and Administration leaders remain in a deadlock over another round of COVID-19 stimulus, with a deal after the election still unknown. The House released and passed an updated version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act, which proposes an additional $100 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and $65 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program. The package is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate. NASTAD will continue to monitor the appropriations process and stimulus negations and advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs. 

Administrative Activity

Presidential Election Results

On November 7, 2020 several media organizations declared that Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris won the election for the President and Vice President of the United States. Biden and Harris will take office on January 20, 2021. Currently, Vice President Joe Biden is leading in the electoral college and popular vote. Votes are still being counted so final electoral college and popular vote counts are not available.

HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau Releases Two New Aging with HIV Reference Guides

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) HAB recently released two new reference guides to assist health care professionals as their population of patients aging with HIV grows. 

Incorporating New Elements of Care: This reference guide identifies commonly occurring health care and social needs of people aging with HIV and highlights the screenings and assessments for these needs. It serves as a starting point for health care teams as they build and expand their knowledge and practice of serving people aging with HIV.

Putting Together the Best Health Care Team: This reference guide discusses how all members of the health care team can contribute to the care of people aging with HIV. Specifically, this guide identifies roles, responsibilities, staff training, and resources for the health care team to build their capacity and may assist the health care team as they build and expand their knowledge and practice of serving people aging with HIV.”

HHS letter on Hepatitis B Discrimination in Medical Schools

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a letter to health professions schools in the US, calling for renewed attention to admissions and clinical placement policies and their obligation to comply with federal civil rights laws that protect the rights of people living with hepatitis B. In the letter, HHS urges “schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and other health profession schools to give renewed attention to their policies and practices including those related to admissions and clinical placements respecting applicants to and students in their education programs who are living with hepatitis B to ensure that they are in compliance with federal civil rights laws.”

Lawsuit Filed Against Administration’s Diversity Training Executive Order

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s recent executive order that prohibits federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. The order describes trainings that cover topics such as implicit bias or critical race theory and directs agencies to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics. The organizational plaintiffs include: the Los Angeles LGBT Center; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; CrescentCare in New Orleans, LA; Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA; and, SAGE based in New York City. 

PACHA Virtual Meeting

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) will hold its 69th full Council meeting virtually on Wednesday, December 2 and Thursday, December 3, 2020 from 1:00 - 5:00 PM (ET). The meeting agenda will be posted on the PACHA page on HIV.gov prior to the meeting. Instructions on attending this meeting virtually will be posted one week prior to the meeting here.


NASTAD Resources for Open Enrollment

The 2021 Open Enrollment Period began on November 1 in every state, and ends on December 15 in most states. This Open Enrollment Period poses unique challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and NASTAD is available to support members’ important work helping clients enroll in and maintain coverage for the upcoming plan year.

The following NASTAD resources are now available on our website:

  • NASTAD’s September 8 webinar, “RWHAP ADAP Considerations for the 2021 Plan Year
  • Pre-recorded education session on Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19 (available via NASTAD’s Online Technical Assistance Platform, OnTAP)
  • NASTAD’s 2021 ADAP Cost-Effectiveness Toll and User Guide (attached)
  • NEW Pre-recorded training on NASTAD’s 2021 Cost-Effectiveness Tool (available via OnTAP)

Additionally, NASTAD has developed the following resources related to enrollment and coverage considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

And finally, here are some resources from NASTAD’s partners that may be helpful to you during Open Enrollment:

  • TargetHIV resources for Open Enrollment and more (ACE TA Center)
  • Health Reform Beyond the Basics comprehensive webinars and other materials related to all things enrollment (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
  • Find Your State tool, an easy-to-use web hub with information about health coverage options in each state, including enrollment dates, eligibility, Marketplace and Medicaid websites, and more (Greater Than AIDS)

New Ending the HIV Epidemic Jurisdictional Directory

NASTAD released a new Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Jurisdictional Directory. The directory provides a list of local and state points of contact for EHE-related community engagement activities. Aiming to increase community participation, the directory also includes EHE websites, EHE jurisdictional plans, and social media accounts if available. NASTAD maintains the directory as the HRSA-20-089 Systems Coordination Provider and CDC PS19-1906 National Partner. The directory is available through NASTAD’s EHE website and it is used to populate additional national contact lists. 

SAVE-THE-DATE: Regional Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Sessions

Given the importance of a robust community engagement process, CDC, in conjunction with our funded Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) Providers, will convene a series of Regional Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Sessions. The purpose of the town hall virtual sessions is to educate, encourage, and empower the local community on the engagement and planning process. These virtual townhall sessions will take place the week of November 16th – 20th. The intended audience includes the phase I stakeholders, local community members, non-traditional partners (new voices), HIV planning group members, community-based organizations, and health department colleagues.

Title: Regional EHE Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Session (South)

Date: Tuesday, 11/17

Time: 3:00 to 5:00pm ET

Link: https://nastad.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJArf--rqjwiG9weIdnD7Uqi0sUbLE5dCxdc

Title: Regional EHE Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Session (Northeast)

Date: Wednesday, 11/18

Time: 3:00 to 5:00pm ET

Link: https://nastad.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYuc-CuqzIqGtW9qKUrIRsaZwf5QIbk8WKX

Title: Regional EHE Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Session (West)

Date: Thursday, 11/19

Time: 3:00 to 5:00pm PT

Link: https://nastad.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwkf-urrTgoHNN-TcSX2llzllfAk969cfiS

Title: Regional EHE Community Engagement Town Hall Virtual Session (Midwest)

Date: Friday, 11/20

Time: 1:00 to 3:00 pm ET

Link: https://nastad.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEofu6prTovE91Bhy0NdUI5NthXpJRG0DXX

The Role of Institutions of Higher Education in Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE)

“This training explains why college health centers are uniquely positioned to deliver HIV testing, offer PrEP, and make college students aware of their serostatus and how they can engage their campuses and classmates in local EHE implementation strategies.”

Job Postings

Senior Associate, Health Equity – Washington, DC

NASTAD is seeking a Senior Associate for the Health Equity team. The Senior Associate, Health Equity plays an essential role in supporting the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions identified by NASTAD's Center for Innovation and Engagement (CIE). CIE is leading a collaborative partnership with Northwestern University's Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology and Howard Brown Health Center to identify, catalog, disseminate, and support the replication of evidence-informed approaches and interventions to engage people living with HIV (PLWH) who are not receiving HIV care or who are at risk of not continuing to receive HIV care. The project's end goal is to support the replication of identified interventions into real-world implementation by Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) and HIV care providers.

HIV/STD Prevention Interventions Coordinator – Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Public Health Division (PHD), HIV, STD and TB Section in Portland, OR is recruiting for a HIV/STD Prevention Interventions Coordinator to coordinate cross-programmatic HIV and STD prevention initiatives and activities with internal, state, and local partners in order to meet population-level public health goals to decrease the transmission, prevalence, and impact of HIV and STDs. This posting closes on November 22, 2020.

Clinical Quality Management Health Planner – Fort Lauderdale/Broward County EMA

The Clinical Quality Management Health Planner is a professional health planning position. Incumbents in this classification carry out work assignments with considerable degree of independence and are free to develop their own work sequence within the broad guidelines of policies and procedures. Key Skill sets include the ability to: conduct data analysis; write proficiently; provide clear, accurate, and engaging presentations; facilitate Clinical Quality meetings; and conduct technical research. This role will participate in communications with the Ryan White Part A Grant Recipient, provides insight into relevant data activities and will have access to confidential information. The Health Planner requires a broad knowledge of assigned program areas and expertise in program planning techniques.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter indicating how your past experience relates to this position to quality@brhpc.org .

Director – Remote

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) is seeking a Director to lead the development, coordination, and implementation of NVHR’s programmatic activities. They will work independently and collaboratively with both internal and external partners to achieve policy and programming goals in alignment with NVHR’s mission to eliminate viral hepatitis in the US. Remote work is available, and the application deadline is 11/13/20 (or until filled).

Virginia Medication Assistance Technicians Levels II and I – Virginia

The VA Medication Assistance Program (VA MAP) provides access to critical HIV-related treatment for low-income individuals who have no other resources to pay for their medications. The Medication Assistance Technician (MAT) Level I manage telephone, fax, and written communications with consumers, providers, vendors, insurance companies, HCS team members, and others. The MAT I conducts individual client’s VA MAP eligibility and recertification in accordance with the most current Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) guidance and program policies and supports all daily operational activities of the VA MAP including staffing the program’s telephone hotline. The MAT I also supports daily VA MAP operations including responding to and managing client inquiries that come through the Eligibility Hotline and provider communications through other channels, referring clients to resources, resolving medication access issues, assisting with insurance enrollment and contacting clients to obtain additional application information. Candidates must have very good customer service skills, strong computer skills, the ability to follow instruction, problem-solve medication access issues, and accurately collect, organize, analyze, manage, and report data. Minimum requirements are a high school diploma or equivalent training and experience. Knowledge of HIV/AIDS health care services delivery and call center experience preferred. These are contractual positions working a minimum of 40 hours per week, but do not offer benefits (annual leave, sick pay, or health insurance). For Level I, the pay ranges from $18-$22 per hour based on experience. The Medication Assistance Technician Level II demonstrates a mastery of all duties and skills for the Level I position, in addition to providing training for new Level Is and assists with tasks and projects as assigned by their supervisor. Level II pay ranges from $23-$26 per hour based on experience.

These positions are open until filled. To apply for either of these positions, please send your resume and cover letter by email to myras@tscti.com, rajeshwarj@tscti.com, and dgsjobs@tscti.com, and in the subject line put “VA Medication Assistance Technician Level I or VA Medication Assistance Technician Level II”. Applicants must successfully pass a background investigation.

STD Epidemiology and Surveillance Team Lead – Texas

The Texas Department of Health Services is seeking a STD Epidemiology and Surveillance Team Lead in the STD/Hepatitis C Epidemiology and Surveillance Group of the HIV/STD/HCV Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Branch. Under the supervision of the group manager the Epidemiologist III performs highly advanced senior-level research and epidemiological work requiring specialized knowledge of STD surveillance. Designs and conducts advanced epidemiological research, evaluating populations and their risk factors for STDs using data from the STD reporting systems and other large data sets in the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. Prepares and presents research findings on STD issues in reports, professional journals, national conferences, and state meetings. Plan, assign, and/or supervise the work of others. Works under minimum supervision with extensive latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment.  

Ending the HIV Epidemic Treatment Coordinator – Tarrant County, TX

The Ending the HIV Epidemic Treatment Coordinator oversees implementation of the Ending the HIV Epidemic grant activities for the Tarrant County HIV Administrative Agency. This position focuses on operational functions while working with community partners and sub-recipients to drive changes impacting the lives of more than 6,000 clients living with HIV. The Coordinator will assist with preparing the grant application, developing the workplan, overseeing grant-related reporting, monitoring the budget, and supervising Ending the HIV Epidemic staff. The posting may close at any time.

HIV Planner - HIV/STD DSHS Grant – UT Austin

The HIV Planner, in coordination with the UT-Austin Health Innovation and Evaluation Team and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) HIV Care Services Group and the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch Planning team, will perform comprehensive, advisory duties in developing, planning, and monitoring the development and implementation of HIV strategic, operational, program, and technical assistance plans.

HIV Prevention Manager — Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Infectious Diseases is seeking one candidate to fill their Health Planning Administrator 2 role for the HIV Prevention program. The Manager would be responsible for coordinating all components of the HIV Prevention Program (e.g., managing the statewide HIV testing program, implementing high-impact prevention strategies including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and blood-borne pathogen prevention programs, managing the statewide PrEP assistance program known as PAPI (Prevention Assistance Program Interventions), collaborating with the STI Prevention program to achieve partner services and linkage to care performance measures, implementing innovative HIV testing initiatives, managing the deliverables of contractors, reducing health disparities among disproportionately impacted populations, providing leadership in the statewide community planning group and community-level interventions, demonstrating the application of feedback from stakeholders in community planning documents and activities consistent with federal guidance, provide programmatic leadership in cluster investigation and outbreak response related to HIV transmission).

Open Positions – New York State

The New York State Department of Health, in partnership with Health Research, Inc, has various job openings, including some within the AIDS Institute. Please visit this link to learn about their current opportunities.

News Bulletin

Black Women’s Uptake of PrEP Hampered by Numerous Factors

“Among African-American women at risk for HIV who participated in a recent interview study in Milwaukee, their potential use of Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was apparently impeded by numerous factors, including a lack of awareness of their HIV risk as well as mistrust of the medical establishment. Liesl A. Nydegger, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues conducted a study of 30 Black women deemed at risk for HIV, interviewing them four times over a six-month period.”

COVID-19 Stymies Plan To End HIV in America

“The time line for ending the HIV epidemic has become less certain. Services for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) “are stripped to basic and highest priorities,” said Julie Dombrowski, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and the deputy director of the Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program, whose HIV program is a good example.”

Free Coronavirus, HIV Testing And More Available At Englewood Health Fair Friday

“Free coronavirus testing, HIV testing and more will be available at a wellness fair Friday in Englewood. There will be free snacks available, and personal protective equipment from Meridian Health and baby diapers and formula from local nonprofit Black Girls Break Bread will be given away. Training for administering Narcan — an emergency medication used to treat drug overdoses — will also be available.”

Shot to Prevent H.I.V. Works Better Than Daily Pill in Women

“A single shot given every two months has proved to be more effective than a daily pill at preventing H.I.V. in women, researchers reported on Monday, an advance that medical experts hailed as groundbreaking in the fight against the deadly virus that causes AIDS. The finding that the long-acting drug would prevent H.I.V. in six doses taken over a year instead of the 365 required for the prevention pill currently on the market was so convincing the researchers decided to end their clinical trial of the drug early.”