Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras June 28, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

NASTAD joined a coalition of over 40 advocate organizations and called on Congressional Appropriators to support domestic and global family planning programs in the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill. The coalition calls for robust investments in reproductive health programs like Title X, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and other global health initiatives. The advocates urge Congress to remove amendments and bill language in the final appropriations bill that undermine coverage and access to family planning services, like the Hyde and Weldon amendments that limit coverage of abortion. Additionally, the advocates call on the Congress to oppose ideologically motivated programs that are not rooted in sexual health best practices, such as abstinence-only programs.

NASTAD Calls on Congress to Include Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act in Upcoming Infrastructure Package

NASTAD joined a broad coalition of advocacy organizations and called on Congress to support the inclusion of the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives ACT (PHISLA) (S.674) in the upcoming legislative infrastructure and jobs package. PHISLA would fill long-standing gaps in public health, enable modernization of health data and technology systems, and build a foundation for a more effective, efficient public health response to future pandemics. The coalition highlights the urgent need to direct more resources to the nation’s public health infrastructure due to the chronic underfunding of health departments and the declining public health workforce over the past decade. PHISLA would establish a Core Public Health Infrastructure Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that state and local health departments have the tools, workforce, and systems in place to address existing and emerging health threats and reduce health disparities.

Administrative Activities

HRSA Funding Opportunity for Pilot Project with Minority Serving Institutions to Build HIV Workforce

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently published a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) aimed at increasing the number of health professionals providing HIV care and treatment services to people of color through pilot projects that integrate HIV information into the curricula of undergraduate minority serving institutions of higher education (MSIs). HRSA’s Building the HIV Workforce and Strengthening Engagement in Communities of Color (B-SEC) initiative emphasizes leveraging the long-standing presence and trusted voice of MSIs in communities of color disproportionately affected by HIV, through educating and training students in HIV care and treatment, raising awareness about the advances in HIV care and treatment, and reducing stigma in the communities in which the MSIs are located. Funding under this announcement will support a cooperative agreement for a four-year award to a single organization to address the national shortage of minority-serving providers in the HIV workforce. Click here to read more about the funding opportunity. Applications are due on July 6.

CDC, HRSA Observe National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day, observed annually on June 27, is an opportunity to encourage and emphasize the importance of HIV testing, which is essential to reducing HIV infections, improving health outcomes for people with HIV, and helping to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. This year’s theme, My Test, My Way, empowers people to take charge of their health by getting tested for HIV in a way that works best for them—whether that’s with an HIV self-test, in person at a local testing site, or through their health care provider. The Director of the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) and the Acting Director of the NCHHSTP Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention published a Dear Colleague Letter highlighting the importance of National HIV Testing Day.

Additionally, the HRSA released RWHAP resources on the Target HIV website as well as health center- specific HIV resources and the Partnerships for Care (P4C) toolkit available on the Health Center Program website. Through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) and the Health Center Program, HRSA has a leading role in helping to diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond as part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative. HRSA’s RWHAP and Health Center Program recipients have been working together to help people across the country get tested for HIV, and then be linked to HIV care and treatment if they test positive.

CDC Launches HIV Criminalization and Ending the HIV Epidemic Webpage

On June 24, CDC launched the HIV Criminalization and Ending the HIV Epidemic webpage as part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic campaign. CDC recognizes that Ending the HIV Epidemic requires addressing structural barriers to HIV prevention and care, including laws that criminalize the behavior of people living with HIV. CDC recommends that states update or repeal outdated HIV criminalization laws and practices that are based on stigma and not on current scientific and medical evidence. Currently, 37 states criminalize the behavior of people with HIV through HIV- or STD-specific laws.

Medicaid Enrollment Surges During COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 21, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an Enrollment Trends Snapshot showing record high enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from February 2020 through January 2021. Nearly 9.9 million individuals signed up for coverage, marking a 13.9% increase in enrollment. The increase in total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is largely attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, in particular, enactment of section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). FFCRA provides states with a temporary 6.2% payment increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding. 

Resources

ASTHO Webinar: Designing HIV Systems for the Margins

Date & Time: Monday, July 12 at 2 – 3 pm ET

Summary: This webinar will provide an opportunity to learn about approaches and promising practices for addressing disparities in HIV care. It will feature a presentation about a model, “Design for the Margins,” for designing HIV systems through a health equity lens. It will also feature presentations about efforts to apply principles from this model in HIV programs to reach populations that are currently out of care.

CDC MMWR: HIV Testing Trends Among Persons with Commercial Insurance or Medicaid

CDC MMWR: Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Suicidal Ideation Among State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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.  

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.  

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.

Job Postings

NASTAD Senior Associate, Prevention – Remote/Washington, DC

The Senior Associate, Prevention, as part of NASTAD’s Prevention team, supports the organization’s capacity to support health departments’ (HDs) implementation of Ending the HIV Epidemic plans. The position works primarily on NASTAD’s CDC-funded “Strategic Partnerships and Planning to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States” (PS19-1906 Component A) project to provide technical assistance to HDs implementing CDC PS20-2010 Component A.

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.

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.

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

Senior Democrat outlines new drug pricing plan as talks drag on

“Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden on Tuesday outlined a proposal for curbing prescription drug prices as pressure ramps up on Democratic lawmakers to use the reforms to pay for other priorities in a massive infrastructure package. The new framework, which Wyden has discussed for months with members of his influential committee and Democratic leadership, proposes building on the bipartisan plan he and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) offered last Congress that never came up for a floor vote due to GOP leaders' opposition. It would also include provisions similar to the House’s landmark drug pricing bill, H.R. 3 (117), that would empower Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and apply those lower prices across other public and private insurance programs.”

The Supreme Court saved Obamacare. Now supporters want Biden to fix the law.

“After the latest Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare secured its survival, some of the law’s staunchest supporters have a clear message on what President Joe Biden should do next: Fix it… liberal health care policy experts are warning that the centerpiece of Obamacare, its heavily subsidized health insurance marketplaces where roughly 11 million people get coverage, has always lacked the kind of critical government oversight necessary to ensure the law lives up to its promises. In the absence of rigorous supervision, they say worrying trends like high levels of claim denials and narrow provider networks have already emerged in the marketplaces, which risk growing worse unless the Biden administration takes a tougher line with Obamacare health plans.”

Biden Quietly Transforms Medicaid Safety Net

“The Biden administration is quietly engineering a series of expansions to Medicaid that may bolster protections for millions of low-income Americans and bring more people into the program. Biden’s efforts — which have been largely overshadowed by other economic and health initiatives — represent an abrupt reversal of the Trump administration’s moves to scale back the safety-net program.”