Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir November 5, 2018

Hill Happenings

Liver Illness Visibility, Education, and Research (LIVER) Act of 2018 

On October 12, Congresswoman Nydia Velaquez (D-NY-7) introduced the Liver Illness Visibility, Education, and Research (LIVER) Act of 2018. The bill includes numerous provisions for research on liver cancer and disease including a call for hepatitis B (HBV) research proposals at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); the creation of an inter-institute working group at NIH to coordinate research agendas focused on finding a cure for HBV, better outcomes, and cures for liver cancer and other liver diseases; and the creation of a new grant program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for research into conditions known to increase an individual’s risk of contracting major liver diseases, including liver cancer, HBV, and hepatitis C (HCV). This section of the bill is authorized for $45 million every year for FY2019-2023.

Administration Activities

Medicaid Waiver Decision

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the approval of Wisconsin's 1115 Demonstration Waiver with work requirements. CMS also rejected a plan that would have required drug screening and testing for adults on Medicaid with no dependent children. 

Open Enrollment 2019

The 2019 Open Enrollment Period for Affordable Care Act coverage began on Thursday, November 1, 2018, and runs through Saturday, December 15, 2018.

SAMHSA Strategic Plan

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released its strategic plan for FY 2019 to 2023.The plan identifies five priority areas for the behavioral health care needs of individuals, communities, and service providers:

  1. Combating the opioid crisis through the expansion of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services; 
  2. Addressing serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbances; 
  3. Advancing prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for substance use; 
  4. Improving data collection, analysis, dissemination, and program and policy evaluation; and 
  5. Strengthening health practitioner training and education.

The plan calls on SAMHSA to “collaborate with [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other stakeholders to advance efforts to screen, prevent, and address the infectious disease [HIV, HCV, and infectious endocarditis] complications of opioid use disorder, particularly among people who inject drugs.”

Job Opportunities

Operations Manager C-SES– Florida

The Florida Department of Health is hiring for an Operations Manager in their HIV/AIDS Section.

Program Specialist V– Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services is hiring for a Program Specialist V within their HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch.

Upcoming Conferences

2019 National HIV Prevention Conference

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

2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference

The 2019 HIV Diagnostics Conference will be held in Atlanta on March 25-28, 2019. The conference will address advances in diagnostic testing, and strategies for using test technologies in public health programs and clinical practice. The conference program this year expands beyond HIV testing, and incorporates STI and HCV testing technologies and strategies, with an emphasis on integrating testing programmatically. As with past conferences, there will be a mix of oral presentations, panel discussions, and poster sessions. We strongly encourage health department HIV, HCV, and STI testing program managers and other staff consider submitting an abstract, attending the conference. Abstract submission for the conference closes on Monday, November 5.  

340B Winter Conference

Registration is now open for the 340B Winter Conference taking place January 30 – February 1, 2019 in San Diego, California.  NASTAD is a member of the 340B Coalition and the conference is a place to talk to 340B entities and hear updates from many partners.


The Lancet: Incarceration history and risk of HIV and hepatitis C virus acquisition among people who inject drugs: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Families USA Post-Election Webinar: The Future of Health Care in America: Wednesday, November 7, at 3 PM EST. This webinar will provide an assessment of the election outcomes at the federal and state levels and discuss what the outcomes mean for health policy in states and nationally.

MMWR: Hepatitis A Virus Outbreaks Associated with Drug Use and Homelessness — California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah, 2017

News Bulletin

Boston HIV clinic sees 90% reduction in infections in people being prescribed PrEP

“The Fenway clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the first to institute a large pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme in the USA, has seen a reduction in HIV incidence of 90% in patients who had PrEP prescriptions at the time they were diagnosed, the HIV Research for Prevention conference (HIVR4P 2018) heard today.”

Republican governor of Idaho backs ballot measure expanding Medicaid

“The Republican governor of Idaho gave advocates of expanding Medicaid a significant lift Tuesday, coming out in favor of the Obamacare policy just a week before voters in the state decide on its fate. The question of whether to grow the low-income health-care program to cover more people is on ballots in three deep-red states — Idaho, Utah and Nebraska — where conservative legislatures didn’t choose expansion. Outgoing Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a conservative with an independent streak, announced his support and cut an ad for Idahoans for Healthcare, an organization advocating for expansion.”