Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir August 13, 2018

Hill Happenings 

2019 Appropriations 

The Senate is expected to take up Defense and Labor-Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding package before the end of August, with floor consideration expected to begin on August 15. NASTAD will continue to monitor the appropriations process and advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs.  

NASTAD signed onto a letter requesting Appropriation Committee leaders to fund the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) at $4.37 billion for FY2019. 

Administration Activities  

Medicare Advantage 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would give Medicare Advantage health plans new tools to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Medicare Advantage plans will now be allowed use step therapy for physician-administered drugs. NASTAD will continue to monitor this issue.  

2020 Census 

NASTAD submitted comments on proposed changes to the 2020 Census. Families USA developed a fact sheet highlighting the detrimental impact an undercount on the 2020 Census could have on health care funding.  

2018 National STD Prevention Conference 

The 2018 STD Prevention Conference will be held August 27-30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Late registration for the conference is still open.  

2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment 

The 2018 Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment will be held December 11-14, 2018 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Late registration for the conference is open until September 28, 2018 

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) 2018 Clinical Conference 

The RWHAP Clinical Conference will be held on December 9-11 in Oxon Hill, MarylandThe conference is open to any RWHAP-funded clinical prescriber--Parts A-F.  Registration for the Clinical Conference is now available. 

2019 National HIV Prevention Conference 

The 2019 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) will be held March 18-21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Check out the updated website for more information about tracks and to view the tentative conference schedule.  

Resources 

CDC published a resource that maps all FDA-approved HIV tests to standard LOINC codes: HIV Diagnostic Tests LOINC Map 

News Bulletin 

Between 2015 and 2018, there were 129 new HIV cases linked to drug use in the two cities, according to preliminary results from a joint investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, from 2012 to 2014, an average of just 41 cases of HIV linked to injection drug use were diagnosed per year in the entire state of Massachusetts. 

Prescription drugs could account for nearly 15% of all money spent on healthcare in the U.S., according to  a recent report  published in Health Affairs that offers a counterpoint to the frequent industry claim only 10% of spending goes toward pharmaceuticals.” 

“TV advertising is a natural evolution of efforts to educate people about risk factors and what they can do to protect themselves,” the company says. Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, a New York City-based nonprofit that promotes HIV prevention, agrees wholeheartedly. He has only one complaint about Gilead’s PrEP ads. “In my mind,” he says, “it’s six years too late.” 

“Hospital infrastructure for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission has limitations that may contribute to perinatal HIV transmissions, according to results published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.” 

Dr. Robert Gallo: Use HIV lessons to stem opioid epidemic 

Let’s start with community engagement to change policy — we must focus on managing opioid use disorder as a medical illness rather than a crime. This means expanding access to evidence-based medical treatments, such as methadone and buprenorphine (suboxone), and supporting programs to divert individuals with substance use disorder from incarceration. At present, only 47 percent of counties have a physician who can prescribe buprenorphine, and the majority of publicly funded drug treatment programs do not prescribe medication assisted treatment.