Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Julio Contreras August 16, 2021

Hill Happenings

FY2022 Appropriations

Lawmakers in the Senate are working to quickly advance Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) spending bills following the passage of the INVEST in America Act (H.R.3684), the bipartisan legislation negotiated from the President’s infrastructure proposal, on August 10. Until recently, appropriations discussions in the Senate have been limited since Democrats contend that the final FY2022 spending package will not proceed until an agreement is reached on the President’s infrastructure package. Senators promptly took up debate on a FY2022 budget resolution after the passage of the infrastructure bill, triggering the budget reconciliation process in the upper chamber.

On August 11, after enduring a lengthy vote-a-rama, Senators approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution for FY2022. The budget resolution sets fiscal parameters for the upper chamber’s spending bills and directs committees to begin drafting legislative text. Under the budget reconciliation process, Democrats will be able to avoid the Senate filibuster and pass the spending package with a simple majority. Democrats are expected to leverage this process to pass policy priorities without Republican support, including health spending priorities such as lowering drug pricing and extending ACA subsidies authorized by the COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan.

Senators will finalize their spending bills in September after the August recess, operating under a September 30 funding deadline. Once the upper chamber’s spending bills are approved, the House will take up consideration of the infrastructure package and finalize the consolidated FY2022 spending bill and the infrastructure package in tandem. NASTAD will continue to monitor the FY2022 appropriations process to advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs.

Administrative Activities

HHS Posts EHE July Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar Presentation & Recording

The July EHE Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar featured federal and community leaders presenting best practices to improve the scale-up and use of harm reduction models including, Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) as a prevention tool to ending the HIV epidemic. To learn more about the impact of SSPs and harm reduction methods to end the HIV epidemic, view the recording playback  and presentation slides from the EHE July Quarterly Stakeholder webinar. Additional high-level updates and efforts from federal agencies to improve SSPs are available here. 

CDC Releases Grant Funding Profiles Tool

On August 6, CDC released the Grant Funding Profiles webpage, an interactive tool that provides data and summaries of CDC cooperative agreement and grant funding to recipients in U.S. states and territories, and the District of Columbia, starting with fiscal year (FY) 2010. The data is compiled in a format that allows users to view, sort, and analyze funding data by funding opportunity announcement, funding source (CDC funding category and sub-category), geography, and recipient name and type.

CDC Updates Tuberculosis Patient Resource

On August 11, CDC released an updated Questions & Answers About Tuberculosis pamphlet. Since 1994, the pamphlet has been a key patient education resource for answering common questions about tuberculosis. The 2021 edition has a new look with updated, basic information on TB infection and TB disease. Key audiences for this pamphlet include people with or at risk for TB; people who may have been exposed to someone with TB; people who provide services for those at risk for TB, such as correctional officers, homeless shelter workers, and emergency responders; and people who want to learn more about tuberculosis.

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.

CDC Recommends Additional Dose of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine in Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People

On August 13, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that endorsed the use of an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems after an initial two-dose vaccine series. CDC now recommends that people who are immunocompromised, including people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, receive an additional dose at least four weeks after completing the primary COVID-19 vaccine series. The CDC recommendation was issued after the Food and Drug Administration updated the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals on August 12.

Resources

NASTAD/ASTHO Webinar: Cross-Jurisdictional Data Sharing: Legal, Practical, and Ethical Considerations for Improved Infectious Disease Cluster Response

Date & Time: Wednesday, August 18, 1-2pm ET 

Please join NASTAD, ASTHO, and state health department partners for a webinar presenting the forthcoming resource, Cross-Jurisdictional Data Sharing: Legal, Practical, and Ethical Considerations for Improved Infectious Disease Cluster Response. The resource will highlight the experiences of jurisdictions that have successfully created systems for cross-jurisdictional data sharing in order to enhance HIV outbreak preparedness. The webinar will include multilevel partners to discuss the rationale and intention behind the new resource. Project leads will share findings and recommended steps to support jurisdictional plans for initiating and improving cross-jurisdictional data sharing, including legal and technological considerations.

USCHA 2021 Going Virtual

“When we announced the 2021 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS was going to be in person, I was joyous about the thought that we could come together. Unfortunately, the Delta variant of COVID is too easily transmitted, even by people who are fully vaccinated. What seemed like a reasonable decision in May now feels impossible. After a long discussion with our board, NMAC will move USCHA to the virtual space. I am so sorry. I know this is very disappointing. NMAC must always prioritize the health and well-being of people living with HIV (PLWHIV). The virtual USCHA will be pushed back to December 2-3 (World AIDS Day Adjacent). Join us for a Facebook Live chat this Thursday, Aug. 12, at 1:00 PM on our Facebook page.”

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.

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

Hepatitis Surveillance Data Analyst – New Orleans, LA

This position is responsible for the data analysis activities for the Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV/Hepatitis Program (SHHP), in the Hepatitis Surveillance unit. Data utilized for Hepatitis Surveillance activities include Hepatitis laboratory data, Case Report Forms, Provider Report Forms, Linkage to Cure data, investigation data, Medicaid data, and data from related sources and programs. This position will implement and coordinate data analysis activities to monitor and evaluate progress toward meeting hepatitis elimination within the state. All activities must be completed in accordance with the security and confidentiality guidelines required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHHP.

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

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.

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 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

President Biden Urges Congress To Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

“President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to help lower prescription drug prices on Thursday as the White House balances the interests of the industry that developed Covid-19 vaccines in record time with an American public feeling the squeeze of ever-increasing healthcare costs.” 

The costs of PEPFAR's leadership vacuum

“During his candidacy, US President Joe Biden committed to prioritising the global AIDS response. This promise has been contradicted by a 6-month delay in nominating an Ambassador at-large to lead PEPFAR, which has functioned without a presidentially appointed health diplomat since Ambassador Deborah L Birx was detailed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force in February, 2020. The Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, which oversees PEPFAR, has instead been operating under acting technical stewardship. Whomever President Biden selects to serve as Ambassador at-large must have a bold and strategic vision for global, national, and urban HIV responses; a global public health skillset and relevant experience to lead PEPFAR; consummate global health diplomacy at bilateral and multilateral levels; a proven track record of meaningful community engagement; and a command of data-driven, equity-based accountability frameworks.”

Biden yet to nominate new FDA chief even as delta surges

“President Biden has yet to nominate a permanent head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at a time when the government is navigating a surge in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant. It’s unclear why the post remains vacant more than six months into Biden’s presidency, but some experts suggest politics may be getting in the way. Some Democratic senators are pushing back on the prospects of acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock being named to the permanent role, but health care experts are warning that the administration needs to fill the position immediately.”