Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir May 14, 2019

Hill Happenings

Labor HHS Subcommittee Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations approved their draft FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill. The LHHS bill is the first to move through the full committee this year. The bill includes an increase of $490 million for domestic HIV programs, including funding to begin implementing the Administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (ETE) initiative. NASTAD will continue to provide update on the FY2020 Appropriations process.

Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) reintroduced a revamped Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, a bill that would spend $100 billion over 10 years to combat the opioid epidemic—primarily through formulaic grants to states and counties based on the recorded rates of overdoses. The legislation is modeled after the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990. The bill includes $700 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the bill’s grant funding, $1.6 billion would be awarded on a competitive basis to states, territories, and tribal governments. 

Administration Activities

Gilead PrEP Donation

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that following discussions related to the Administration’s Ending the Epidemic Initiative, Gilead Sciences has agreed to donate PrEP medication to up to 200,000 people per year. Gilead will donate Truvada until its newer product, Descovy, is approved for PrEP (this is expected before the end of 2019).  At that time, Gilead will donate Descovy. The agreement would end after 11 years, or when a generic version of Descovy becomes commercially available, whichever comes first. Gilead has indicated the donation program will not replace its existing patient assistance program (PAP) and co-pay assistance program (CAP).

National HIV Testing Day

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), an observance to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. In preparation for this year’s NHTD, CDC will host a webinar on Wednesday, May 29th at 2:00 PM (EDT) to share with partners new NHTD materials/resources and highlight ideas/strategies for hosting NHTD events. You can register for the webinar here

STD Federal Action Plan

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register to solicit written comments for the STD Federal Action Plan. Comments are due by 5:00 PM (EDT) on June 3, 2019.

Resources

Episode 1 of Defining Equity Podcast Available

The first episode of NASTAD’s Defining Equity podcast is now available for download. Defining Equity is a monthly podcast series that tackles the numerous health equity issues facing underserved communities highlighting public health professionals using strategies to empower and center communities living at the margins. Episode 1 covers the need to address the health inequities and invisibility of queer and bisexual women in public health.

Report on HIV Health Improvement Affinity Group

A new evaluation report discusses the processes and short-term outcomes associated with collaborative efforts by health department and Medicaid agency staff in 19 states to increase viral suppression and improve health outcomes for people with HIV enrolled in Medicaid. The state teams were participants in the HIV Health Improvement Affinity Group, a one-year activity co-led by several federal agencies that provided support to the state teams. 

MMWR: Increase in Hepatitis A Virus Infections — United States, 2013–2018

Disparities in Incidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Among Black and White Women — United States, 2010–2016

GAO Report: Assessing Treatment Expansion Efforts and Drug Control Strategies and Programs

Upcoming Meetings

Adherence 2019

Adherence 2019 will take place June 17-19, 2019, in Miami. This annual series of conferences features HIV treatment and biomedical prevention adherence research, and current behavioral and clinical perspectives in practicum, within the context of optimizing the continuum of HIV care and prevention. Adherence 2019 will also include an implementation science track focused on closing gaps between evidence and routine practice for health in real-world settings. Registration is currently open.

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.

Fast-Track Cities 2019

Fast-Track Cities 2019 will take place September 8-11, 2019, in London. This will be the first international conference of more than 270 cities and municipalities, including from the United States, that are accelerating their responses to HIV, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis. The conference’s aim is to highlight successes achieved across the Fast-Track Cities network, address cross-cutting challenges faced by local stakeholders, and share best practices in accelerating urban AIDS responses, inclusive of co-infectious diseases and comorbid conditions. Registration is currently open.

Job Opportunities 

Director–Maryland

The Maryland Department of Health’s Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau is hiring a director within the Prevention and Health Promotion Administration. This position would also serve as the state’s AIDS director. The position is open to both non-physicians and physicians.

Epidemiologist II–Chicago

The Chicago Department of Public Health is hiring an Epidemiologist II within their Public Health Services Division of the HIV/STI Bureau. This posting is open until May 13. 

Epidemiologist II– Massachusetts 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is hiring an Epidemiologist II within their Office of Health Care Planning of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. This posting is open until filled. 

Program Manager– San Francisco

Building Healthy Online Communities is hiring a new program manager that would be housed at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for a 3-month assignment that may convert to a regular full-time position, dependent on funding. This posting is open until filled.

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. 

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.

Director, Ryan White– Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Health is hiring for a Director within their Ryan White Part B Program. This posting is open until filled. 

News Bulletin

Gilead Will Donate Truvada to U.S. for H.I.V. Prevention

“Gilead Sciences, maker of Truvada, the only drug approved to prevent infection with H.I.V., will donate enough of the drug to supply 200,000 patients annually for up to 11 years, federal health officials announced on Thursday. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services said the donation came about “as a result of discussions between the Trump administration and Gilead.”

Needle Exchanges Find New Champions Among Republicans

“At least four legislatures have considered bills to allow hypodermic needle exchanges, and two states, Georgia and Idaho, made them legal this year. In each of these states, the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans and the governor is a Republican.

Florida, Missouri, Iowa and Arizona have introduced bills this legislative session that would allow needle exchanges in their state. The measures were all sponsored or co-sponsored by Republicans.”

Addiction Medicine Mostly Prescribed To Whites, Even As Opioid Deaths Rose Among Blacks

“White drug users addicted to heroin, fentanyl and other opioids have had near-exclusive access to buprenorphine, a drug that curbs the craving for opioids and reduces the chance of a fatal overdose. That’s according to a study out Wednesday from the University of Michigan. It appears in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers reviewed two national surveys of physician-reported prescriptions. From 2012 to 2015, as overdose deaths surged in many states so did the number of visits during which a doctor or nurse practitioner prescribed buprenorphine, often referred to by the brand name Suboxone. The researchers assessed 13.4 million medical encounters involving the drug but found no increase in prescriptions written for African Americans.”

Drug Prices Will Soon Appear in Many TV Ads

“The Trump administration for the first time will require pharmaceutical companies to include the price of prescription drugs in television advertisements if the cost exceeds $35 per month. The move, announced on Wednesday by Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, is the most visible action the administration has taken so far to address the rising cost of prescription drugs. It has been a key issue for American voters and one that both Republicans and Democrats have vowed to address.”