Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir February 4, 2019

Hill Happenings

Congressional Hearings

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearingProtecting Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions, to examine the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for pre-existing conditions. Committee members highlighted a number of areas they could consider this year, including efforts to lower health care costs, improve association health plans, and allow people to buy into the Medicare program.

Administration Activities

President’s FY2020 Budget

The White House has confirmed that the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget will not be released today due to the shutdown, pushing past the first Monday in February “deadline.” Many of the federal employees who prepare the budget proposal were furloughed during the recent government shutdown. NASTAD will provide updates on the timing President’s FY2020 budget release. 

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is February 7.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided free tools in the NBHAAD Resource Center to help in supporting your awareness activities and testing events. 

National HIV/AIDS Strategy and National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan Update

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) is hosting listening sessions as it begins to update the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP). NASTAD will provide comments.

  • Friday, February 22, 2019: In-person Listening Session at HHS from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 PM EST in Room 800 of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20201. RSVP by Thursday, February 14 by sending your name, title, and organization to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.

OHAIDP previously held listening sessions during the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment, 2018 National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting convened by NASTAD, and at the 2018 U.S. Conference on AIDS.

Resources

NASTAD will host a webinar on Wednesday, February 13 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST to provide an overview of the Trauma-Informed Approaches Toolkit.

The updated Common Patient Assistance Program Application (CPAPA) was released along with an instructive companion document

Greater Than AIDS released a new campaign, Let’s Talk About HIV Treatment, with videos featuring young people sharing their journeys from diagnosis to getting into care and treatment to maintaining viral suppression.

Job and Project Opportunities

HIV/STD Prevention Program Manager– Maine 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is hiring for the HIV/STD Prevention Program Manager position within their Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This posting closes on February 15. 

Director, Ryan White Part B Program– Tennessee 

The Tennessee Department of Health is hiring for a Ryan White Part B Director.

Cook County Health System Executive Director of HIV Services– Cook County

The Cook County Health System (CCH) is hiring an Executive Director of HIV Services.

Disease Intervention Specialist– Alaska

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is hiring for a Disease Investigation Specialist I within their Division of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology, HIV/STD Program.

Upcoming Meetings

2019 National HIV Prevention Conference

The 2019 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) will be held March 18-21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Registration is open.

2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference

The 2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference will be held in Atlanta on March 25-28, 2019. The conference will address advances in diagnostic testing, and strategies for using test technologies in public health programs and clinical practice. NASTAD encourages health department HIV, HCV, and STI testing program managers and other staff consider submitting a late breaker abstract.  Particularly encouraged are abstracts that address strategies to integrate HIV and HCV testing and linkage, and best practices to streamline time to test result receipt and linkage to care in clinical and non-clinical settings.

HIV, HCV and Syphilis Diagnostic Testing Workshop

The Association for Public Health Laboratories (APHL) will be hosting an HIV, HCV and Syphilis Diagnostic Testing workshopin conjunction with the 2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference. The workshop will be held Monday March 25, 2019 from 8am-3pm. The conference will kick off at 4pm. The educational workshop will feature short presentations highlighting the current technology and algorithms for each pathogen followed by facilitated and small-group discussions centered around case studies and real-world examples. The objectives of the workshop are two-fold: (1) to educate attendees about the technologies and challenges in diagnostic testing and (2) to encourage peer-to-peer discussions and fostering collaborations beyond the workshop. Program staff are welcome to attend.  If you will be attending the conference and would be interested in participating in the workshop, please contact APHL’s Dr. Anne Gaynor.

AIDSWatch 2019

AIDSWatch will take place April 1-2, 2019 in Washington, DC. AIDSWatch is the nation's largest annual constituent-based national HIV advocacy event, bringing together hundreds of people living with HIV and their allies to meet with Members of Congress and to educate them about the important issues at stake for people living with and affected by HIV in the United States. Please forward this information to your networks and encourage their participation in AIDSWatch 2019. 

News Bulletin

Trump’s State of the Union pledge: Ending HIV transmissions by 2030

“President Donald Trump plans to use Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to promise an end to the HIV epidemic in America, four individuals with knowledge of the planned remarks told POLITICO. Under Trump’s 10-year strategy, health officials would target the U.S. communities with the most HIV infections and work to reduce transmissions by 2030. The strategy has been championed by top health officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.”

Trump administration proposal threatens HIV patients

“Recently, however, the Trump administration has proposed making changes to Medicare Part D, stripping out the protections for antiretrovirals and other medications in other protected classes. This proposed plan would impose a step therapy-type structure for HIV medications, which means Medicare can require patients under my care to fail on cheaper medications before being supplied with the medication that I, as their doctor, prescribed as the optimal medication. for that person’s health.”

Aetna settles California privacy lawsuit over mailings that exposed patients’ HIV status

“[California] Attorney General Xavier Becerra has settled a lawsuit against healthcare provider Aetna, which was in hot water after sending out letters to almost 2,000 Californians that revealed their HIV status through a window on the envelope, according to Becerra’s office. The $935,000 settlement was announced Wednesday, and court documents detail the 2017 breach of patient confidentiality that led to the lawsuit and a multimillion-dollar class action settlement.”

Outbreak of HIV found among Boston drug users

“Public health officials are scrambling to contain a new cluster of HIV cases among people who inject drugs, this time based in Boston and involving six people so far. The new cluster follows an HIV outbreak in Lawrence and Lowell that involved 153 cases from 2015 through 2018. Boston and state officials expressed optimism that the deadly virus can be stopped before the Boston outbreak spreads.”