Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir April 22, 2019

Hill Happenings

Budget Committee Chair Yarmuth Tempers Expectations on Budget Deal

House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) is working to temper expectations on both sides of the aisle going into spring negotiations on a two-year deal to end sequestration. Rep. Yarmuth says the final budget deal is bound to emerge with lower non-defense spending caps than House Democrats are seeking and the same level, if not higher, for defense. Still, while not reaching full parity, Rep. Yarmuth also warns Republicans that the non-defense spending caps will not be as low as they were last year when the GOP controlled both chambers and will avoid sequestration.

Administration Activities

NIH Launches Four-state Study to Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths

The National Institutes of Health announced on Thursday that they will spend $350 million for grants in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio to study ways to best deal with the nation’s opioid crisis on the local level, with a goal of reducing opioid-related overdose deaths by 40 percent over three years in selected communities in those states.

The plan calls for the research centers to work with at least 15 communities hard hit by the crisis to measure how integrating prevention, treatment and recovery interventions can reduce overdoses. They are expected to look at how behavioral health, unemployment and the criminal justice system contributes to the crisis, and measure the effectiveness of various prevention and treatment methods, such as distributing anti-overdose drugs to schools, police and other first responders.

President Trump to Address Opioid Summit

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will address participants of the 8th annual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia about the ongoing opioid epidemic. In the fall of 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency for the first time, allowing HHS to use its resources to combat the issue.


HIV Diagnostics Conference Summaries Available

The 2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference was held in Atlanta, March 25-28, 2019 and featured over 375 participants, including representatives from state health department HIV and viral hepatitis prevention programs. Co-sponsored by the CDC, American Sexual Health Association, the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association, and the Association of Public Health, this year’s conference expanded beyond HIV diagnostics to include testing for viral hepatitis, particularly HCV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A number of presentations that may be of interest include:

Slides for oral presentations are available at the conference website. Abstracts for all oral and poster presentations are available in the Conference Program.

Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Health Outcomes for PLWH

NASTAD is leading a collaborative partnership with Northwestern University’s Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology and Howard Brown Health Center  in response to HRSA-18-048, Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Health Outcomes for People Living with HIV as part of HRSA’s Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS). The project purpose is to identify, catalog, disseminate, and support the replication of evidence-informed approaches and interventions to engage people living with HIV (PLWH) who are not receiving, or who are at risk of not continuing to receive HIV healthcare. We are requesting assistance in completing or disseminating our Request for Information (RFI) which is designed to cast a wide net to identify interventions, models, or best practices being implemented in your jurisdictions. We are interested in reaching clinical or non-clinical providers who are knowledgeable about the implementation and/or evaluation process of interventions that involve: the use of acuity scales to identify people at risk of falling out of care, the use of provider/surveillance data to identify people out of care, innovative clinical/structural system level approaches to re-engage or retain people in care. The RFI will remain open until Tuesday, April 30. Should you have any questions, please contact Rosy Galvan or Natalie Cramer.

Upcoming Meetings

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 

Surveillance Director– West Virginia 

The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services is hiring a Surveillance Director for the Division of STD and HIV within the Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services. This posting is open until July 7, 2019. 

Communicable Disease Prevention Program Manager– Wyoming

The Wyoming Department of Health is hiring a Communicable Disease Prevention Program Manager within their Communicable Disease Unit. This posting is open until filled. 

HIV Planner– Texas

The UT-Austin Health Innovation and Evaluation Team and the Texas Department of State Health Services is hiring for an HIV Planner within their HIV Care Services Group and the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch Planning team.

News Bulletin

Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force Takedown Results in Charges Against 60 Individuals, Including 53 Medical Professionals

“Attorney General William P. Barr and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar II, together with multiple law enforcement partners, today announced enforcement actions involving 60 charged defendants across 11 federal districts, including 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners, and seven other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in the illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous narcotics and for health care fraud schemes.”

Autopsy says Roxsana Hernández died from AIDS-related illness

“New Mexico officials have concluded a transgender woman who died in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year was not physically abused before her death.

A press release the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator released on Tuesday says an autopsy it performed on Roxsana Hernández found she died from Castleman disease associated with AIDS.”