Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir March 18, 2019

Hill Happenings

Medicare Part D

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging CMS to reconsider its proposal to weaken the six protected classes in Medicare Part D. 

NASTAD previously signed onto a letter urging the Administration to oppose changing the rules regarding the protected drug classes. The letter outlined how a rule change for all classes would jeopardize access to effective treatment for Medicare beneficiaries living with HIV and other serious, complex chronic conditions that require timely and uninterrupted access to drug therapies.

Administration Activities

Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) held a meeting on March 14 and 15. There are nine new PACHA members, including NASTAD Board Member John Sapero. PACHA provides recommendations to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective HIV treatment and prevention. Under the President’s new initiative to end HIV in the United States by 2030, PACHA will play an important role in guiding the Administration’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

President’s FY2020 Budget

Last week, President Trump released his overall FY2020 Budget Request and the HHS Budget in Brief, which proposes an increase of $291 million across HHS to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.The document, entitled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” proposes severe cuts to safety-net programs. The Budget also proposes eliminating parity between defense and non-defense discretionary spending and increasing defense spending at the expense of non-defense spending. 

NASTAD put together this chart detailing the President’s budget request. NASTAD will continue to gather information about the Administration’s FY2020 budget and will work with Congressional staff to ensure the highest levels of funding possible for key programs.  We will send out further budget and appropriations information as it becomes available. 

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Opioid Response and Planning Grants

The HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) recently released the Rural Community Opioids Response (RCORP) Planning Grant Notice of Funding Opportunity announcement. The RCORP grant announcement specifically notes, “The opioid epidemic has also led to an increase in people who inject drugs (PWID), which in turn has increased the risk of transmission of viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV) through shared equipment. Rural communities are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and HCV among uninfected PWID.” One of the required activities of the grant includes tracking, screening, preventing, and referring to treatment patients with substance use disorder/opioid use disorder who have infectious complications, including HIV, viral hepatitis, and endocarditis, particularly among PWID. There will be a technical assistance webinar for applicants on March 27, 2019 from 11:30-1:00 PM EDT. Applications are due by May 6.

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to increase HIV education, testing, and treatment in Native communities – Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The CDC provided free tools in their Resource Center to help in supporting awareness activities and testing events. 

HIV Prevention Progress Report
The Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) released the CDC HIV Prevention Progress Report 2019. The Progress Report reports on 21 HIV prevention and care indicators. For the first time, this report combines national and state level indicator data (where available) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. National data are presented for 21 indicators and state data for 7 indicators for which state data are available.

SAMHSA Funding Opportunity

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) through its Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) to support substance use treatment service delivery to racial/ethnic minority individuals at risk for or living with HIV. The grant opportunity is supported by Minority AIDS Initiative resources that are appropriated to SAMHSA. Eligible applicants are domestic public and private nonprofit entities. SAMHSA anticipates a total of $12 million to fund up to 24 awards. Project can last up to five years. Applications are due Monday, April 22, 2019.


Issue Brief:Bolstering Latinx Gay and Bisexual Men to Promote Health and Reduce HIV Transmission

MMWR:Notes from the Field: HIV Diagnoses Among Persons Who Inject Drugs — Northeastern Massachusetts, 2015–2018

Upcoming Meetings

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. 

2019 National Sexual Health Conference 

The 2019 National Sexual Health Conference will take place July 10-12 in Chicago, IL. The conference aims to create opportunities to share information, efforts, and best practices around sexual health across the lifespan by bridging the varied disciplines of education, advocacy, and clinical care, among others. Registration is currently open

Job Opportunities 

Public Health Representative IV – New York

The New York AIDS Institute is hiring for a Public Health Representative IVin their Bureau of HIV/STD Field Services. There are two open positions for this posting (NY-Central Islip, Long Island and NY-New Rochelle). Both postings close on March 18, 2019.

Chief, Center for HIV/STI Integration and Capacity Program Manager II– Maryland

The Maryland Department of Health is hiring a Chief for their Center for HIV/STI Integration and Capacity Program Manager II within their Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau. This posting closes on April 9, 2019. 

Director Epidemiologic Unit– New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Health is hiring a Director for their Epidemiologic Unit within the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services. This posting closes on April 5, 2019.

News Bulletin

Most states Trump administration pinpointing for HIV prevention didn't expand Medicaid

“Most of the states the Trump administration is focusing on in its ambitious effort to stem HIV transmissions have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare -- creating an even bigger challenge for the federal government as it seeks ways to help get virus-suppressing medications to low-income patients.”

Here are some HIV headlines you may have missed

“Last Monday, researchers shared the case of a London man who is being hailed as "functionally cured" of HIV. By Tuesday, that announcement was on the home page of virtually every paper of record in the world. Over the past week, this news has caused ripples of celebration, analysis and follow-up, including reports of a third patient who received the same treatment as the London man but whose recovery remains at a more tentative stage.”

Trump's budget adds domestic HIV funding while slashing global outlays

“The Trump administration Monday unveiled its 2020 budget proposal, which contains a $291 million request to fund the president’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic” plan. The new funds are for what the budget calls an “ambitious, yet necessary effort” and would largely go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and the Indian Health Service.”

Remembering the activists who helped make HIV/AIDS research possible

“It is worth remembering the immense work that it took before progress could be made. In the first decade of the epidemic, when AIDS was invariably lethal, panic and ignorance were rife even among medical professionals. Those afflicted were met with moral judgment instead of sympathy. Politicians were unhurried about — or downright hostile to — funding research to combat HIV/AIDS. It took years of struggle by militant AIDS activists before mindless prejudice about those with the disease would cease and progress could be made toward a cure.”