Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras August 2, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

On July 29, the House of Representatives passed a seven-bill spending minibus on a 219-208 vote, which includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) funding bill serving as the legislative vehicle. The LHHS spending bill passed the House Appropriations Committee on July 15 on a 33-25 vote, and would increase funding for the Department of Health and Human Services by 28 percent above Fiscal Year 2021 in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster the nation’s public health infrastructure and capacity. The Senate must now pass its own spending bills before the two chambers of Congress meet jointly to pass the consolidated FY2022 appropriations bill in full conference.

Senate Appropriators have yet to release legislative text or announce a markup schedule for the FY2022 Senate LHHS spending bill, although it is expected to be marked-up after the August recess. With a bipartisan group of Senators having reached a deal on the President’s Infrastructure package, Senators are now expected to work quickly to draft legislative text for the upper chamber’s spending bills and move the appropriations and infrastructure bills in parallel. NASTAD will continue to monitor the FY2022 appropriations process to advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs.

Congressional Hepatitis Caucus Co-Chairs Introduce Resolution for World Hepatitis Day

On July 27, the co-chairs of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY-06) and Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), introduced a resolution (H.R.563) in recognition of  World Hepatitis Day, observed annually on July 28. The resolution calls for broad access to hepatitis B and C treatment, increased screening and awareness of hepatitis B and C, and a robust governmental and public health response to address the public health threat of viral hepatitis. The resolution was introduced with bipartisan support from four co-sponsors.

Administrative Activities

World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day, observed yearly on July 28, represents an opportunity to draw attention to the global burden of viral hepatitis and to recognize the public health professionals and organizations making the elimination of viral hepatitis a global priority. Organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), commemorate World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, which impacts more than 354 million people worldwide. 

On July 28, California Governor Newsom issued a letter in recognition of World Hepatitis Day. The Governor calls for Californians to learn about preventive vaccines and to get screened for chronic hepatitis B and C, especially for Asian and Pacific Islanders, African American, Native Americans, and Latinos who live in California.

CDC Awards $117 Million Toward Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US

On July 27, CDC announced that it awarded $117 million to state and local health departments to help rebuild and begin to expand HIV prevention and treatment efforts as the U.S. continues to respond to COVID-19. The awards are part of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative, which funds 57 priority areas to expand and tailor key HIV prevention strategies to community needs. This is the second major round of CDC funding delivered to state and local health departments as part of the initiative and builds upon initial investments awarded through CDC’s “Integrated HIV Program for Health Departments to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States” cooperative agreement (CDC-RFA-PS20-2010). Click here to read a Dear Colleague Letter from the leaders of the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention on the new funds.

NASTAD Submits Comments Supporting Biden Administration’s Efforts to Shore Up ACA Implementation

NASTAD and the HIV Health Care Access Working Group of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership submitted comments in support of the Biden Administration’s proposed rulemaking that would expand access to coverage for Marketplace plans and reverse many of the changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation that were put in place by the former Trump Administration. The proposed rule would reinstate Navigator Program standards that were withdrawn by the Trump Administration, lengthen the annual open enrollment period and create new pathways to enrollment for Americans with low incomes, and establish network adequacy provisions to strengthen partnerships with essential community providers and Ryan White Clinical providers. Additionally, the coalition calls on the Administration to address common issues people living with HIV face with plans sold on the Marketplace, such as mid-year formulary changes and enrollment restrictions.  


HRSA Launches Ending Stigma through Collaboration and Lifting All to Empowerment (ESCALATE) Program

On July 29, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the launch of the Ending Stigma through Collaboration and Lifting All to Empowerment (ESCALATE) program. ESCALATE was designed with the goal of reducing stigma for people with HIV on multiple levels throughout the health care delivery system, including on the individual client, organization, and system levels. The program also focuses on implementing various stigma-reducing approaches with an emphasis on increasing cultural humility in care and treatment settings for people with HIV within the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP). ESCALATE features trainings, time-limited TA for RWHAP recipients/subrecipients, and two learning collaboratives to reduce stigma and improve health outcomes based on the concepts of cultural humility and stigma reduction. Applications are open until Friday, September 3rd.

HRSA RWHAP Webinar: RWHAP Compass Dashboard launch webinar

Date & Time: Wednesday, August 4 from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET

HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) is excited to announce the upcoming release of the new Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Compass Dashboard. The RWHAP Compass Dashboard is a user-friendly, interactive data tool to visualize the reach and impact of the RWHAP and outcomes among clients served. HRSA HAB invites you to join our RWHAP Compass Dashboard launch webinar, where you will learn more about the data included, key features, and how to use the data dashboard in your work.

The RWHAP Compass Dashboard allows users to view national-, state-, and metropolitan area-level data and to explore RWHAP client characteristics, such as age, housing status, race and ethnicity, and HIV-related health outcomes, such as viral suppression and retention in care. In addition, the dashboard visualizes information about services received through the RWHAP, as well as characteristics of clients accessing services through RWHAP AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). 

HHS NOFO: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Promoting Vaccine Confidence in Local Communities through Partnership with HHS Regional Health Offices

The Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) and the Office of the Regional Health Operations (ORHO), Office of Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, announced a funding opportunity to support innovative practices in local communities that increase vaccine confidence and promote uptake of vaccines that are routinely recommended for adults and children, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities, adolescents and young adults, pregnant people, residents in rural communities, and others with low vaccination coverage rates. Applications are due August 17, 2021.

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.

Job Postings

University of Southern Maine – Portland, ME

  • HIV and STD Epidemiologist: The University of Southern Maine seeks applicants for a full-time, soft money-funded scientific professional position for statewide epidemiological support, program coordination, and leadership focusing on for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Responsibilities include statewide surveillance for HIV and other STDs, education and outreach activities focused on prevention of HIV and STD transmission, and participation in routine and outbreak infectious disease monitoring and response activities.
  • Viral Hepatitis Coordinator: The University of Southern Maine seeks applicants for a full-time, soft money funded professional position involving statewide viral hepatitis program coordination and leadership skills. Responsibilities include maintaining technical expertise in the subject area, and coordinating, developing, implementing, and evaluating programmatic interventions.  

Austin Department of Public Health -- Austin, TX

  • Public Health Program Coordinator: The Public Health Program Coordinator will direct all aspects of the Ryan White Part A Quality Management Program. Responsibilities will include directing policy formulation; program planning, design, implementation, and evaluation. Excellent Benefits Program
  • Grants Coordinator: This position will be responsible for managing the subcontracting process for the Ending the HIV Epidemic grant by preparing RFPs/RFAs; developing grant subcontracts; negotiating work statements/budgets; and executing contracts.  This position is also responsible for monitoring grant expenses and activities by identifying and solving potential or existing grant problems. Excellent Benefits Program
  • Grants Program Manager: The purpose of this position is to provide key program and administrative support related to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Federal grants for services for People with HIV (PWH) in the Austin area. This position will assist the unit by providing oversight for the contract development and grants management processes. Excellent Benefits Program

Health Scientist, HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau – Rockville, MD

This position is located in the Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau, Division of Policy and Data, Special Projects of National Significance Branch. Some major duties and responsibilities include providing technical guidance for the evaluation of HIV/AIDS service programs administered by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Special Projects of National Significance; designing, analyzing, and disseminating HIV/AIDS service program data to facilitate program monitoring as well as determine the most effective methods for disseminating findings from aggregate- and client-level data collection systems; identifying, designing, and conducting analyses (qualitative and/or quantitative) of program data and preparing written and analytical reports; and providing expertise on planning, designing, and developing materials and documents for dissemination.

Director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy – Washington, DC

This position is located in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). OASH coordinates public health and science activities across HHS components. The incumbent will serve as the senior level advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) on health policies, procedures, and activities relating to infectious disease and related policy and program development. The incumbent provides strategic leadership, oversight, direction and coordination of policies, programs, and activities designed to prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and other emerging communicable diseases.

NASTAD Assistant, Program and Policy – Remote/Washington, DC

The Assistant, Program and Policy will support NASTAD’s program and policy teams by providing administrative and logistical support for the Senior Directors/Directors. The ideal candidate will be motivated, highly organized, and able to follow through on tasks with minimal prompting. Demonstrated ability to execute projects in a timely manner and precise attention to detail are required.

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.

2021-2022 HepVu Fellowship

HepVu is focusing on empowering new voices by offering three fellowship opportunities for researchers in viral hepatitis and HIV spaces. Each fellow will be awarded a $10,000 personal stipend to conduct a research project related to HIV, Hepatitis C, or both, using data on AIDSVu and/or HepVu, along with other data sources. Priority will be given to research proposals that address health disparities and/or relevant intersections such as syndemics, the opioid epidemic, social determinants of health, STIs, etc. We believe communities affected by these health disparities should be centered in the work we do and strongly encourage applications from underrepresented groups in the HIV and Hepatitis C space. Fellows’ research will be featured on the Vu platforms and used to further illustrate the impact of HIV and/or viral hepatitis in the U.S.

New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control

  • ID Care Services Program Manager (Public Health Program Manager #43569, Job ID 20909): This full-time position leads the dynamic NH Ryan White CARE Program and NH TB Financial Assistance Program teams.
  • HIV Surveillance Coordinator (Program Specialist III #18990, Job ID 21123): This full-time epidemiologist position is responsible for HIV/AIDS case and cluster/outbreak surveillance activities, develops routine and ad hoc reports and data analysis projects, and supports related health equity initiatives.
  • STD Surveillance Statistical Assistant (Statistical Assistant #19623, Job ID 21093): This full-time position is responsible for supporting STD case surveillance activities, communicating with healthcare providers, and conducting preliminary data analyses.
  • Viral Hepatitis Coordinator (Health Promotion Advisor #42860 , Job ID 20743): This full-time position is responsible for coordinating state-wide viral hepatitis activities including prevention, testing, treatment and linkage to care activities.
  • ID Care Services Quality Management Specialist (Program Specialist IV #9T2810, Job ID: 19231). This full-time position plans and evaluates the quality management areas of the NH Ryan White CARE Program. Provides subject matter expertise with regard to quality improvement methodology and HIV specific performance measures, to demonstrate measured improvements in HIV care across NH.
  • COVID-19 Public Health Nurse Specialist (Public Health Nurse Specialist #9T2809, Job ID 20592). This full-time registered nurse position will join a multi-disciplinary team responsible for COVID-19 case investigation, contact tracing and outbreak response.

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

We Can End Hepatitis C. Why Aren't We? | Opinion

“This year, roughly 14,000 Americans will die from hepatitis C, an infectious disease that can be cured by a simple pill in a matter of weeks. It's infuriating that our government hasn't done more to end this highly infectious disease that disproportionately impacts minorities and people struggling with substance use disorder. Curative drugs first hit the market in 2013. But hepatitis C cases actually rose 63 percent between 2015 and 2019, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In other words, an epidemic that could be wiped out is instead getting worse. As we mark World Hepatitis Day on July 28, we need the U.S government to step up and commit the resources and leadership to end hepatitis C, just like other governments are doing around the world.”

The Health System Appears To Be Selling LGBT+ People Short

“The issue doesn’t get much attention, and the available data are limited, but what we know should be a wake-up call for the health professionals and health care institutions about the care provided to LGBT+ people. The big number: over a third of LGBT+ people – those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something else other than straight – say they have had a negative experience with a provider over the last two years. Those bad experiences range from their provider not believing they were telling them the truth, to suggesting they were to blame for their health problems, to making assumptions about them without asking, to outright dismissing their concerns.

That compares with 22 percent for non LGBT+ people.”

The US Faces a Naloxone Shortage at the Worst Possible Time

“Life expectancy in the United States plunged by a year and a half in 2020, the worst year-on-year change since World War II. Drug overdoses were the second-most influential factor, behind the obvious: COVID-19. Fatal overdoses reached their highest recorded levels last year: 93,000. The surge continues into 2021 and is dovetailing with an unfathomable related crisis: a national shortage of naloxone, the “antidote” to opioid overdose.”