Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Emily McCloskey November 13, 2018

Hill Happenings

Midterm Elections

As a result of last week’s elections, Democrats now control the House and Republicans have held on to their Senate majority. Although several races are still undecided, it is expected that Democrats will pick up several more seats in the House. Access to healthcare was a significant factor for voters this election, and the results have implications for HIV, hepatitis, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  

NASTAD provided this outline of the election results. 

Administration Activities

Hepatitis Prevalence Update 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated estimates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection’s prevalence among adults in the United States (U.S.), published in Hepatology. According to CDC, from 2013-2016, an estimated 4.1 million (1.7%) adults ages 18 and older in the U.S. were living with past or current HCV infection (HCV antibody positive) and 2.4 million (1.0%) adults were living with current infection (HCV RNA infection). In 2014, CDC estimated that 3.6 million U.S. adults were HCV antibody positive from 2003-2010 and 2.7 million were living with current HCV infection.

Medicare Part D

NASTAD signed onto a letter urging the Administration to oppose changing the rules regarding the protected drug classes under Medicare Part D. The letter outlines how a rule change for all classes would jeopardize access to effective treatment for Medicare beneficiaries living with HIV and other serious, complex chronic conditions that require timely and uninterrupted access to drug therapies.

2019 Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is now open throughout the country. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Healthcare.gov now has 2019 plan data available for window shopping which allows consumers to look at plans without logging in, creating an account, or filling out the official application. 

NASTAD recently released PrEPcost.org. PrEPcost.org is an online tool that will help PrEP navigators and their clients evaluate the cost and coverage for PrEP across on- and off-Marketplace health plans.

Hepatitis C Medicaid Affinity Group

The Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) is inviting states to join the second year of the Hepatitis C Medicaid Affinity Group. Participating states will work collaboratively with colleagues across the country to learn about and share innovative strategies to improve outcomes for hepatitis C virus (HCV) among Medicaid enrollees.

The Expression of Interest form is due on Friday, November 19, 2018 by 5:00 PM EST. More information and to access the Expression of Interest Form and a fact sheet, please visit https://go.usa.gov/xPRX4.

Job Opportunities

Community Health Program Supervisor – Minnesota

Hennepin Health is hiring for a Community Health Program Supervisor in their Public Health Clinical Services within Health and Human Services.

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 tracks and to view the tentative conference schedule. Late Breaker abstract submissions are being accepted now through November 30, 2018.

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 is open.  


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

The CDC released updated Hispanic/Latino fact sheets and issue briefs. These resources are available in English and Spanish.

Punishment is not a Public Health Strategy: The Criminalization of Viral Hepatitis in the United States was a webinar for advocates working in the connected fields of harm reduction, viral hepatitis treatment access, and HIV criminalization. The recording and slides are online.

Funders Concerned About AIDS released a new reportLast Mile Funding: Improving Practice in Philanthropic Funding of Community Action on AIDS.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services removed all disease severity restrictions, including fibrosis score requirements for Medicaid patients seeking hepatitis C treatment. The new policy halts the ban on substance users and removes the policy of limiting Direct-Acting Antivirals (DAAs) treatment to “once in lifetime.” 

The Sociometrics Library provides online, 24/7 access to a variety of tools, including over 300 datasets. The library offers over 60 evidence-based programs, over 50 datasets, and 17 capacity-building tools focused on HIV/AIDS prevention; 20 evidence-based practices (EBPs) specifically target racial/ethnic and sexual minority populations. 

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases released a new report, Preventing Hepatitis B in US Adults through Increased Vaccination Rates among At-Risk Groups. The report included a new infographic highlighting adult hepatitis B vaccination.

The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) and National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable’s (NVHR) released an updated report, Hepatitis C: The State of Medicaid Access. More information on the state of Medicaid HCV treatment access and state-by-state report cards are available at www.stateofhepc.org

Prevention Access Campaign is hosting their next U=U webinar, titled “The Third U: Universal Access” on Monday, November 19th at 3pm EST. You can register here.

News Bulletin

The Sex Ed Crisis

“News flash: Pretty much everyone has sex before marriage (95 percent of Americans, to be exact). Yet lots of high school teens are being taught to wait (they won’t) without being told how to use birth control or lower their risk of getting STIs. And while plenty of students get no sex ed at all—only 24 states and Washington, D.C. even require it—more and more are learning from “abstinence-focused” curricula that serve up shame and heteronormativity and fail to provide crucial information about sexual health, healthy relationships, consent, and contraception.”

House Dems In New Seats Of Power Will Steer Health Policy, Attack Drug Prices

“Empowered by voters outraged over Republican attempts to chip away at the law’s protections for the sick, Democrats owe much of their midterm takeback to health care issues. And Democratic leaders say they are ready to get back to work, this time training their sights on skyrocketing drug prices, among other policy conundrums, with a majority of House votes and a slate of new committee chairmanships in hand.”