Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir June 24, 2019

Hill Happenings

FY2020 Appropriations 

The House passed the first minibus package that combines Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) with Defense, State-Foreign Ops, Energy-Water, and the Legislative Branch by a vote of 226-203. Included in the package is the House Appropriations draft FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill. 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. Congressman David McKinley (R-WV-1) submitted remarks in support of HIV programs.

The House will now begin consideration of the second minibus, which combines the Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD spending bills. The AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition (ABAC) sent a letter urging House appropriators support funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) and the first ever dedicated funding to combat HIV and hepatitis C at the Indian Health Service.

NASTAD signed onto a letter urging Senate Appropriators  to support at least $8.22 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the FY2020 LHHS Appropriations bill.

PrEP Legislation

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) recently introduced the PrEP Access and Coverage Act, legislation that would expand access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Senator Harris released this press statement on the legislation. 

The bill includes a comprehensive and unprecedented set of non-discrimination and access protections aimed at tackling the formidable stigma, coverage, and cost barriers to PrEP. The bill also provides funding for a national PrEP program—that includes resources to support medication, labs, and clinical services — which are critically necessary to scale up PrEP in communities disproportionately impacted by HIV. Additional background information on the legislation can be found here

Administration Activities

Mapping Hepatitis Elimination in Action

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently launched a new webpage that features a map of hepatitis elimination projects from across the country. Read more about this ongoing project and how you can add your own elimination project to the map. 

Indian Health Services

The Indian Health Service (IHS) launched the Eliminating Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS in Indian Country Initiative and issued new guidance recommending that all adults receive a hepatitis C (HCV) test at least once in their lifetime. 

HHS STI Webpage

The HHS Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) announced the launch of a new STI web pageHHS.gov/STI. The web page will provide information on the development of the STI Federal Action Plan and will house the plan, information about its implementation, and progress towards goals after it is released. Visitors to the page can also find links to basic STI information and resources on policies, guidelines, and best practices for STI prevention, diagnoses, and treatment.

CDC ETE NOFO

The CDC released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcement for PS19-1906: Strategic Partnerships and Planning to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States. Letters of intent were due on June 19, 2019 and the application deadline is July 12, 2019. This NOFO is part of the Administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for Americainitiative.

Category A of the NOFO will fund “a national organization to enhance the health departments' capacity to support integrated HIV programs; ensure development and maintenance of strategic communication channels and partnerships that advance national HIV prevention goals and contribute to ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.” Category B will fund “eligible health departments to conduct a rapid planning process that engages the community, HIV planning bodies, HIV prevention and care providers, and other partners in aligning resources and activities to develop jurisdictional End the HIV Epidemic plans.”

Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America Webinar

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau will host a second webinar for all Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients, partner organizations, and stakeholders on Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, from 2-3:00 PM ET.

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. The CDC provided free tools in their Resource Center to help in supporting awareness activities and testing events. 

Hepatitis A Outbreaks

The CDC issued an announcement detailing a widespread hepatitis A outbreak. Specifically, there have been 20,133 cases reported between March 2017 and June 2019. The outbreak has impacted almost half of the states in the country and resulted in 11,595 hospitalizations and 191 deaths.

SPNS Journal Articles on Latinos and HIV Care Engagement

Two journal articles on recent HIV care innovation projects funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program highlight care insights and challenges for Latinxs living with HIV. Both articles feature programs under the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS).

Resources

Episode 2 of Defining Equity Podcast Available

The second 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. 

Report: HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Deep South: Trends from 2008-2016

Upcoming Meetings

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 

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. 

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. 

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

Kamala Harris Wants To Make HIV Prevention Pill More Accessible

“Harris’ bill focuses on expanding access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a medication that dramatically lowers the risk of contracting HIV for people at high risk for the infection. The bill would ease the financial burden on consumers by guaranteeing the pill is fully covered by private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare and would allocate resources to cover uninsured patients. It would also ban companies selling life, disability and long-term insurance from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people taking PrEP.”

Barber-Backed Sex Talks to Curb HIV

“As the White House pushes a plan to end America's HIV epidemic, a vital venue to help accomplish that goal might be right down the neighborhood block. In a study out this week, researchers in New York City detail how getting heterosexual black men in Brooklyn barber shops to attend a safe-sex focused educational session helped curbed risky sexual behavior by many of those men in the months that followed.”