Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir July 15, 2019

Hill Happenings

Senate Waiting on Budget Caps Deal Before FY2020 Markup

Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated last week that the Senate will not begin the process of marking up fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills until a deal between Congressional leaders and the Trump administration is reached on overall budget caps for  FY2020 and FY2021. Democratic aides say there is disagreement between the White House and other Republicans over how a budget deal would look, with liberal Democrats in the House opposed to any increase in caps for defense.

Administrative Activities

White House Begins Review of “Public Charge” Rule

Last week, the Office of Management and Budget began its review of a proposed rule published last October that would expand the number of permanent residents who could face deportation for use of public benefits, or if they are deemed likely to receive them in the future. During the 60-day public comment period, more than 260,000 responses were recorded, including opposition from health professionals, educators, and immigrant advocates. Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said in an interview last week the regulation could be finalized by this fall. Immigrants who have used cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid or Medicaid are said to be possible targets of the rule, although the exact text has yet to be made public.

Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Holds Public Meeting on Ending the Epidemic

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) held its 64th annual meeting last week in Jackson, MS where it discussed possible recommendations regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective, prevention, treatment and cure of HIV disease and AIDS, as well as a panel presentation on Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. During the meeting, Brett Giroir, MD, ADM, Assistant Secretary for Health for the Department of Health and Human Services, announced that his office is sending a team of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers to support regional Ending the HIV Epidemic initiatives in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. The team will work with other federal and non-federal partners, to develop targeted, public health interventions specifically geared toward the communities they are trying to reach.


NASTAD released a blog entitled Proposed Roll Back of Transgender Protections Puts Lives at Risk outlining how the removal of the explicit non-discrimination protections provided under section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act re-establishes barriers to care for the transgender community.

ASTHO released its 2019 Advocacy Toolkit which provides guidance on how to educate and engage congressional officials during their district work periods.

MMWR:  Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Persons Who Inject Drugs — Western New York, 2017; Changes in HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis Awareness and Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men — 20 Urban Areas, 2014 and 2017

Job Opportunities

HIV Medication Assistance Program Manager

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Communicable Disease Branch is accepting applications for HIV Medication Assistance Program Manager. This position is responsible for managing all aspects of the HIV Medication Assistance Program (HMAP), overseeing the HMAP supervisors, ensuring that eligible recipients receive life-saving medications appropriately, that the program is operating efficiently, and for assuring that the program follows all federal requirements.

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.

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.

Upcoming Conferences

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.

News Bulletin

HIV and Hepatitis Outbreaks Strike West Virginia as State Waits for Opioid Funds

“West Virginia communities, still waiting on federal funds to combat the opioid crisis, are experiencing a surge in HIV and hepatitis A, and at least one public health official sees a connection.

Since March 2018, West Virginia has seen over 2,500 cases of hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease that can be spread through contaminated food or drink. The state typically sees fewer than 15 cases per year. The Mountain State averages 74 new cases of HIV a year, but Huntington, W.Va., has seen 53 new cases alone so far in 2019.”

He Emerged from Prison a Potent Symbol of HIV Criminalization

“Last week, Michael L. Johnson, a former college wrestler convicted of failing to disclose to sexual partners that he was H.I.V. positive in a racially charged case that reignited calls to re-examine laws that criminalize H.I.V. exposure, walked out of the Boonville Correctional Center in Missouri 25 years earlier than expected.

Mr. Johnson, 27, was released on parole on Tuesday after an appeals court found that his 2015 trial was ‘fundamentally unfair.’ His original sentence was longer than the state average for second-degree murder.”

Researchers say they’re closer to finding cure for HIV after using CRISPR technology to eliminate disease in live mice for the first time

“Researchers say they’re one step closer to finding a potential cure for HIV after successfully eliminating the virus in living mice for the first time.

Using a combination of CRISPR gene-editing technology and a therapeutic treatment called LASER ART, scientists at Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center said they erased HIV DNA from the genomes of animals in what they call an unprecedented study that was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.”