Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir February 26, 2018

Hill Happenings

Budget and Appropriations

Democratic and Republican leaders selected 16 Members to participate in a joint select committee that is charged with recommending improvements to the budget and appropriations process and must report their findings, including legislative language, by November 30.

The joint committee was set up under the recent budget deal that raised the defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps for FY2018 and 2019.

The HIV and hepatitis communities have reinforced appropriations ask for FY2018 via communications with Congress.  NASTAD led a community sign-on which garnered nearly 100 signers asking that Congress include at least an $100 million increase for CDC’s viral hepatitis program from the $3 billion in the Budget Act allocated for addressing the opioid epidemic.  The AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition (ABAC) also sent a letter urging Congress to reject cuts and continue support for HIV and hepatitis programs.    

Hepatitis C Treatment

In a bid to address the high cost of hepatitis C curative treatments, a group of congressional Democrats are urging federal officials to tap a little-known 1910 law that would allow the government to sidestep patents.  NASTAD is unsure about this approach and overall implications, but we continue to monitor efforts to address the availability and affordability of hepatitis C treatments closely. 

Administration Activities  

Personnel Updates

Jon Cordova, the principal deputy assistant secretary for administration at Health and Human Services (HHS), has been placed on leave while HHS conducts an internal investigation on social media posts in which he pushed unfounded smears on social media.

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Indian Health Service, Robert Weaver, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position, according to an emailed statement from HHS. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), vice chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the move seemed “appropriate given the serious questions recently raised about his suitability to lead a vitally important health agency.”

National Institutes of Health

Dr. Redonna Chandler has been named director of the AIDS Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this role, she will be responsible for the development, planning, and coordination of high priority research on HIV and AIDS and drug use within NIDA and across other NIH Institutes.

News Bulletin

HIV patients sue CVS over pharmacy networks

“Several HIV/AIDS patients have sued CVS Health, alleging the pharmacy giant flouted federal and state insurance laws by forcing patients into two options: fill their prescriptions at CVS locations or through CVS' mail order, or face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.”