Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras June 21, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

On June 14, the House of Representatives passed a deeming resolution (H.R.467), which allows House appropriators to begin work on Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) appropriations bills by establishing topline budget levels. The resolution sets a limit of $1.5 trillion in government funding for FY2022, providing a framework for House appropriators to allocate funding levels for discretionary programs and spending. With the deeming resolution in place, the House Appropriations Committee announced the schedule for committee markups of FY2022 appropriations bills on June 15. Lawmakers will sprint to markup and advance committee bills by July 16. The House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies markup is scheduled for July 12, with the full committee convening for a markup on July 15.

Democrats leveraged the deeming resolution in lieu of a standard-order appropriations budget resolution in order to begin work on the yearly Congressional spending process while simultaneously drafting a budget resolution that will trigger the budget reconciliation process later this year, with the intent to use the reconciliation process to pass the President’s legislative infrastructure package. On June 16, Senate Leader Schumer convened Democrats on the Budget Committee to begin discussions for navigating the reconciliation process in the upper chamber.

Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health for Mental Health and Substance Use Clears Key Senate Committee Vote

On June 16, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a vote on the nomination of Miriam Delphin-Rittmon to lead the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Committee approved Delphin-Rittmon’s nomination by a vote of 20-2, advancing her nomination to the full Senate floor. Delphin-Rittmon formerly appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) on June 8 for a hearing on her nomination.

Administrative Activities

SCOTUS Dismisses Legal Challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

On June 17, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) dismissed a legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), ruling in a 7-2 decision that the plaintiffs lacked the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA’s minimal essential coverage provision, commonly referred to as the individual mandate. The lawsuit, which was supported by the Trump Administration, sought to invalidate the entirety of the ACA and posed a significant risk to the healthcare of millions of people that receive affordable coverage under the health law, including the removal of non-discrimination protections and guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Biden Administration Appoints Director of the Division of STD Prevention

On June 15, the Director of the CDC National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, and Tuberculosis Prevention (NCHHSTP) announced that the Biden Administration appointed Dr. Leandro Mena to serve as the Director of the Division of STD Prevention. In in this role, Dr. Mena will manage the implementation and evaluation of CDC- supported sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention programs in the United States. Health advocates applauded the appointment, highlighting Dr. Mena’s wealth of public health, clinical, and research experience.

US Department of Veterans Affairs Releases Interim Guidance on Syringe Access Services at VA Medical Centers

On June 16, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released interim guidance clarifying the role of syringe service programs (SSPs) in VA medical centers. The guidance confirms that VA has clear legal authority under federal law and regulations to operate syringe service programs (SSPs), including the use of federal funds to purchase syringes. The guidance recommends that VA medical centers either develop VA-based SSPs locally and/or refer Veterans to community partners for these services.

Resources

NASTAD Fact Sheet: Towards Trans-Inclusive and Trans-Centered Harm Reduction Services

This fact sheet outlines five recommendations for harm reduction service providers to foster more affirming and welcoming spaces for transgender and non-binary participants at syringe service programs (SSPs). Created by NASTAD and Reframe Health and Justice, the fact sheet was developed through the CDC-funded National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Center and is a companion to the Trans-Inclusive and Trans-Centered Harm Reduction Services webinar hosted by NASTAD in December 2020.  

2021 Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium

Date: September 29-30

As part of the HRSA-funded Special Project of National Significance (SPNS): Evidence-Informed Approaches to Improving Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV, Howard Brown Health will host the virtual 2021 Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium taking place on September 29-30. This year's theme is Community Informed Care is a Radical Act. The goal of the conference is to provide a space for healthcare professionals, educators, researchers, and advocates from across the country to disseminate evidence-based practices and engage in rigorous discussion around issues relating to the health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

To provide healthcare professionals and community members with an opportunity to bolster professional development and to learn how to better meet the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, NASTAD is awarding 100 scholarships to cover the individual cost of registration. We invite NASTAD members and community partners to register to attend if interested. You may enter the code NASTAD when checking out for free registration.

NASTAD Webinar: Building HIV Workforce Infrastructure of Health Departments and Community Partners

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 30 from 2:00-3:30 pm EST.

The second webinar in the three-part Scaling Up HIV Workforce Capacity for Ending the HIV Epidemic webinar series will cover building up and strengthening of HIV workforce within health departments and community partners. The Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) will discuss strategies and skills for recruitment of new workforce, and training and retention of existing workforce. The Northern California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center will share approaches for collaboration and cross-training within health departments and community agencies. Marion County, an Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Phase 1 Jurisdiction will share their plans for developing HIV workforce as a part of their EHE implementation.  

CDC Releases New Resources for National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is recognized annually on June 27. This year’s NHTD theme is “My Test, My Way,” which emphasizes that people have choices about how and when to do HIV testing, including self-testing at a time and place convenient to them. CDC released new resources for NHTD, including a Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign self-testing resources and an NHTD toolkit.

NASTAD Launches Racial Equity Collaborative for Drug User Health

NASTAD, in partnership with Reframe Health and Justice and Healing Equity United, is excited to announce the launch of the Racial Equity Collaborative for Drug User Health: A Pilot Program for People of Color. The Collaborative is intended to create a supportive space for up to twelve Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) individuals navigating the landscape of governmental, nonprofit, research, and philanthropic fields that support the health of people who use drugs. Convening virtually from July 13 – September 14, 2021, this program will develop connections between BIPOC who work in drug user health and build their capacity to advance racial justice through collaborative, cross-sector change.    

Applications for the Collaborative are now open and can be found here. The deadline is June 21, 2021, at 12:00 PM ET. NASTAD’s Drug User Health team hosted an informational webinar about the Collaborative on Thursday, June 3. Visit our website to view the webinar recording and slides.  

CIE Webinar: Ending the HIV Epidemic with Evidence-Informed Interventions Webinar
Date & Time: Tuesday, June 29 from 1-2 pm EST

CIE is a one-stop shop that makes it easy to find and replicate effective interventions with support along the way! Join the NASTAD and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) CIE Health Equity Team on Tuesday, June 29 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM EST to learn how you can utilize CIE tools and technical assistance to easily identify and replicate innovative, evidence-informed interventions to meet Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) goals.

CDC Launches Next Phase of Know More Hepatitis Campaign

On June 16, CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis launched the next phase of the Know More Hepatitis campaign, which will target primary and prenatal care providers. The campaign will educate providers on the CDC recommendation for one-time hepatitis C (HCV) testing of all adults and all pregnant people during every pregnancy, and regular testing for people at high risk for contracting HCV, including people who inject drugs.

CDC MMWR: Hepatitis A Virus Infections Among Men Who Have Sex with Men — Eight U.S. States, 2017–2018

“During January 1, 2017–October 31, 2018, a total of 260 cases of hepatitis A occurred among MSM from eight states compared with 16 cases reported from 50 states during 2013─2015. Forty-eight percent (124 of 258) of MSM patients were hospitalized for a median of 3 days. No deaths were reported.”

Job Postings

Health Program Administrator II, Director of HIV/STI Prevention Services – Baltimore, Maryland

A Health Program Administrator II plans, administers and coordinates a large health program. Work of this class involves assisting in directing the activities of health clinic personnel. Incumbents receive managerial direction from a technical superior. Employees in this class work a conventional workweek. Work is performed in an office where there is minimal exposure to environmental hazards. Work requires minimal physical exertion.

Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Coordinator – Des Moines, Iowa

Under the direction of the bureau chief and functional oversight of the Data Program Manager, coordinates and serves as the lead epidemiologist for the Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Program, including providing functional oversight for surveillance activities for hepatitis B and C.

HHS Policy and Research Fellowship – Remote/Washington, DC

Multiple fellowship opportunities are currently available in the Office of Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) located in Washington, DC. The opportunity will be remote, until otherwise specified by the participant's assigned mentor. The policy and research fellowship within the Office of Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) provides participants with an opportunity to learn about the policy development process from a range of different perspectives and program areas. Other activities will include drafting reports, letters, white papers, and other forms of scientific writing. OIDP supports a range of inter-agency activities in public health, and serves as a foundation for federal and non federal stakeholder collaboration.

Director I, HIV/STD Prevention and Care – Austin, Texas

Works under the general direction of the Director of the TB/HIV/STD Section (THSS) of the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Performs advanced (senior-level) managerial work leading the day-to-day operations of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Unit. The Director I would lead the day-to-day operations of an array of programmatic services that maintain and facilitate programs of the Unit. These programs include statewide programs for HIV clinical and social services; the provision of medications for the treatment of HIV and other STDs; and HIV, STD and viral hepatitis prevention.

NASTAD Senior Director, Public Health Systems – Remote/Washington, DC

The Senior Director, Public Health Systems, provides leadership and direction to NASTAD’s health care access (HCA) and health systems integration (HSI) efforts. This position leads the HCA and HSI teams providing direct supervision to these teams’ directors and the overarching work of the teams regarding programmatic, technical assistance, and capacity building activities.

Statewide Deputy Medical Director, HIV/STD/Vi ral Hepatitis -- Nashville, Tennessee

Primary responsibilities include leadership and oversight of programs related to HIV prevention and treatment in Tennessee. This position will supervise and provide mentorship to the directors of HIV Prevention and Surveillance and the Ryan White Part B program. Utilize data to guide program and policy development and will provide clinical and programmatic oversight for the implementation of all related prevention and treatment activities. Requires management and leadership skills.

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.

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.

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

Intentionally Delayed Pharmaceutical Innovation Under Perverse Incentives: Gilead’s HIV Pipeline As A Case Study

“While the high list prices of Gilead’s products and the costs borne by the health care system because of these prices will and should factor into the Subcommittee’s inquiries, equally important is the history of the company’s drug development and market manipulation for critical HIV antiretrovirals (ARVs), potentially delaying access to safer medications in the name of profit. While the incentives under the U.S. patent system are supposed to encourage rapid introduction of innovative therapies, Gilead has instead delayed innovations to take advantage of other barriers to generic entry that prolong overall market monopolies.”

Covid-fueled boom in at-home tests may next extend to STDs

“The pandemic brought widespread Covid testing into people’s homes. Now, public health officials across the country are seeing whether the convenience and privacy of similar easy-to-use kits can help them track the spread of sexually transmitted disease. As society reopens, officials in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and even rural Idaho are mailing thousands of free HIV test kits to people who request them online — and are starting to do the same for STDs. With gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis at record-high rates, the officials say new self-swab and finger-prick testing options that patients mail to labs could ease pressure on strapped public health clinics, still consumed with the coronavirus crisis, that also bear the burden of more routine disease surveillance.”

People With Both HIV and Detectable Hepatitis B Are at Higher Risk for Liver Cancer

“Individuals who are coinfected with both hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV are at greater risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. But findings published in Hepatology show that antiretroviral therapy active against hepatitis B would considerably reduce the risk of liver cancer.”

United Nations Adopts New Goals to End AIDS by 2030

“United Nations member states voted 165 to 4 to adopt a new declaration to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The document sets specific goals, such as lowering annual new HIV cases each year to fewer than 370,000, lowering AIDS-related deaths to under 250,000 by 2025, and providing HIV treatment to 34 million people by the same year.”