Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras April 5, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

NASTAD and the Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership called on Congressional Appropriators to increase federal funding for viral hepatitis and eliminating opioid and infectious disease programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 40 organizations signed onto the letter, which highlights the critical need for additional funding to viral hepatitis programs in order to expand workforce capacity, bolster disease surveillance, and develop elimination plans. Additionally, the coalition requested increased funding to address disease transmission through injectable drug use, a key driver of viral hepatitis outbreaks. Finally, the coalition calls for the removal of the ban on use of federal funds towards purchasing syringes.

House Democrats Reintroduce HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act

House Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-At Large) reintroduced the HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act on April 1. The bill would provide up to $250,000 in loan repayment over five years to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists for providing HIV care and treatment-related services. The expanded financial assistance would help to bolster workforce capacity in the HIV field. The bill was first introduced in 2020 by the late Congressman John Lewis (D-GA-05).

Administrative Activity

ONDCP, Biden Administration Announce First Year Drug Policy Priorities

On April 1, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) issued a statement detailing a drug policy framework and list of seven priorities that will inform the work of the Biden Administration and ONDCP through the next year, when they plan to issue a more robust National Drug Control Strategy. ONDCP is taking a poly-substance approach to address the addiction epidemic and calls for a whole-of-government response to build out a drug control infrastructure that prioritizes prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery. The document highlights the important work that harm reduction providers and Syringe Service Programs coordinate and calls for increased investments to expand harm reduction services and programs, like the provision of sterile syringes, fentanyl test strips, and testing for HIV and Hepatitis C. Additionally, the Administration iterates its commitment to addressing racial inequities that are perpetuated through current drug control policies.

HHS Announces Reduced Costs and Expanded Access for Marketplace Health Coverage

On April 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced changes to Marketplace health plans on HealthCare.gov that will reduce premium costs for many enrollees. The American Rescue Plan authorized increased tax credits for consumers enrolled in Marketplace coverage, helping to reduce premiums by $50 on average per person and $85 per policy per month. HHS also announced scaled up outreach efforts aimed to promote Marketplace plans and enroll consumers through the Special Enrollment Period.

CDC Updates List of Conditions at High Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the list of conditions that place one at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to include HIV infection and liver disease. The updated risk categorization could facilitate priority access to vaccines for people living with HIV and hepatitis.

NASTAD and 340B Coalition Urge Express Scripts to Rescind Changes to Claims Policy

NASTAD and the 340B Coalition, a group of 13 national associations representing the thousands of safety-net providers and organizations enrolled in the 340B federal drug discount program, sent a letter to the President of Express Scripts PBM urging her to rescind a recent policy that imposes onerous reporting requirements for 340B covered entities. On February 24, Express Scripts issued a notice to 340B covered entities stating that pharmacies will need to retroactively identify 340B claims by submitting an information reporting (N1) transaction. Health advocates panned the move, citing significant challenges to meeting the financial and administrative requirements imposed by implementing the new N1 reporting process.

Resources

National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on April 10 to educate the public about the impact of HIV on young people. Click here to view updated toolkits for 2021.

AAP Pediatric HIV/AIDS Virtual Training Course – May 25-26, 2021

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Pediatric AIDS is hosting the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Virtual Training Course on May 25-26. 2021. The comprehensive course will address all aspects of HIV management in infants, children, adolescents, and young persons; and to present evidence-based data to optimize clinical practice. The course is intended for individuals that are interested in expanding their knowledge on HIV/AIDS care. Visit https://shop.aap.org/2021-pediatric-hiv-aids-training-course/ to view the agenda, access the course brochure, and to register for the course. If you have any questions, please contact Heather Stob at hstob@aap.org

Job Postings

NASTAD RFP: Consultants, Health Systems Policy  

RFP Issue Date: April 2, 2021 
RFP Closing Date: April 9, 2021 
Anticipated Performance Period: April 15, 2021 – February 28, 2023

NASTAD is seeking applications from experienced professionals to provide subject matter expertise to NASTAD’s health systems integration (HSI), health care access (HCA), and policy & legislative affairs (PLA) teams, in support of capacity building assistance (CBA) and technical assistance (TA) to health departments, clinical providers, and community-based organizations on a variety of HIV prevention and care topics, as well as NASTAD’s legislative and regulatory priorities. 

COVID-19 Project Manager – Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Department of Health is seeking a COVID-19 Project Manager in the Office of Epidemiology. This position works with various stakeholders to organize resources, communicate on projects, and provide reports to various levels of leadership. The COVID-19 Project Manager is primarily responsible for implementing project management processes, organizing timelines, communicating updates, escalating issues that are identified, and providing various reports that provide updates regarding the project’s status.

Clinic Operations Director—Baltimore, Maryland

The Clinic Operations Director position falls within the Division of Population Health and Disease Prevention at Baltimore City Health Department in the Bureau of Clinical Services and HIV/STI prevention. It reports directly to the Bureau Administrator of the Bureau of Clinical Services and HIV/STI Prevention. The medical direction of the clinics are led by 4 medical directors and 2 clinical chiefs. The clinic operations director will work in tandem with the medical directors and report to the bureau administrator. All 8 leadership positions work in an integrated and collaborative partnership. The Clinic Operations Director will oversee all operational aspects of the two clinics, as well as their integration into other aspects of the health department and coordination with other health department programs.

Assistant Commissioner - Health Department – Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) is seeking an Assistant Commissioner to lead the Bureau of Communicable Disease and Outbreak Control. This senior management position will lead a talented team responsible for communicable disease investigation, outbreak control and emergency preparedness programming. The incumbent will also be responsible for developing and implementing agency-wide policies related to health department readiness to respond to public health emergencies. The incumbent will report directly to the Deputy Commissioner for BCHD’s Division of Population Health & Disease Prevention.   

Communicable Disease Epidemiologist – Cheyenne, Wyoming

This position will serve as the Communicable Disease AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Coordinator, Wyoming TB Controller, and Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) for the Communicable Disease (CD) Treatment Program.  Assist in outbreak response to ensure the safety of Wyoming residents; by interviewing cases for exposure information, updating news outlets on the progress of outbreak control, analyzing exposure data utilizing epidemiological and statistical methods.

Department of State Health Services, Program Informatics and Evaluation Group – Austin, TX

  • Epidemiologist III - designs and implements statistical analyses appropriate for epidemiologic and programmatic data with a focus on HIV prevention programming.
  • Program Specialist V - performs advanced (senior-level) consultative services for the Program Informatics and Evaluation Group within the integrated HIV/STD/TB Surveillance and Prevention unit of DSHS
  • Research Specialist V - conducts highly advanced (senior-level) research and analysis of program evaluation and epidemiologic data associated with HIV, particularly routine testing for HIV in clinical settings

Director of Operations, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences – Boston, MA

The Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences (BIDLS) at the Department of Public Health (DPH) is seeking an experienced leader who is eager to join a mission-driven and fast-paced team in effectively and efficiently supporting the day-to-day operational needs of BIDLS.  The selected candidate will provide direct and indirect supervision to a total of 55 staff, including 4 Managers, and will oversee an annual budget in excess of $500M. To be successful, the incumbent of this position must be detail-oriented and also must understand the complexities of systems change and implementation in government systems, with the ability to ensure alignment with the Bureau’s and Department’s mission, goals, and objectives.

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

Community Collaboration Ups HIV Prevention Among Gay and Bi Black and Latino Men

“HIV activists have been saying for years that investing in local communities could improve HIV outcomes for Black and Latino people for whom the current health care system isn’t working. New data from the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI)  seem to support this.”

 

In first, Biden issues presidential proclamation for Transgender Day of Visibility

“President Biden, in a first for any U.S. president, issued on Wednesday a formal presidential proclamation recognizing the Transgender Day of Visibility, according to an advance copy of the White House document obtained by the Washington Blade.”

Learning From HIV Research, $1.15 Billion for NIH Long-Term Studies of COVID-19 Must be Wisely Spent

“On Dec. 21, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133). Among many other measures, the embattled COVID-relief package included $1.15 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for long-term studies of COVID-19.

This significant amount of funding is vital and must be spent both wisely and expediently. And as we’ve seen in the substantive research successes in HIV/AIDS, that means consistent, deep, and respected involvement of members of affected communities.”