Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt August 26, 2019

Hill Happenings

President Trump Backtracks on Rescission Following Pushback from Congress, Cabinet

Following opposition from both Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the Committee’s ranking member, as well as his own Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump has decided not to move forward with his rescission plan. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had recently asked the State Department and USAID to submit information for a rescission package targeting funding for international affairs accounts, including funding for development assistance, with the intent of returning funding to the Treasury. President Trump’s plan faced immediate opposition, including from international advocacy organizations. NASTAD signed onto a letter addressed to both the House and Senate from Global Health Council expressing opposition to the plan.

Administration Activities

HHS Awards $107 Million to Support Health Center Quality Improvement

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced nearly $107 million in Quality Improvement Awards to 1,273 health centers across the country. Health centers will use the awards to improve the quality, efficiency, and value of the health care they provide. Quality Improvement Awards recognize the work that health centers do to address health priorities by designating health centers that ranked in the top 1-2 percent in behavioral health, diabetes prevention and management, and heart health as National Quality Leaders. The top 30 percent of health centers that achieve the best overall clinical performance receive designation as Health Center Quality Leaders.

HHS Appeals Drug Pricing Ruling

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services appealed a federal judge’s ruling, blocking the implementation of a policy requiring prescription drug manufacturers to disclose their list prices in TV ads. The rule would require drug manufacturers to state the list price of a 30-day supply of any drug that is covered through Medicare and Medicaid and costs at least $35 a month. Amgen, Merck and Eli Lilly filed a lawsuit, joined by the Association of National Advertisers, seeking to prevent the rule from going into effect. A federal judge in July, just one day before it was set to take effect, stated that the administration does not have the authority to compel drug companies to disclose prices.

Planned Parenthood Announces Withdrawal from Title X Program

Planned Parenthood has withdrawn from the Title X family planning program in deference to the protest the Trump administration’s rule barring federally funded clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood and other organizations had until midnight Monday August 19th to share their plans to comply with the new rule or forfeit federal grant money. The move withdraws over 400 participating Planned Parenthood clinics, leaving low-income women in many parts of the country without federally funded access to birth control and other reproductive health services. Health departments for the city of San Francisco, Washington State, and Vermont also gave notice that it is withdrawing from Title X, as well as Maine’s only Title X provider Maine Family Planning. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold oral arguments on September 23rd in the case challenging the Title X family planning rules.

SAMHSA Proposes Data Sharing Rule Changes for Substance Use Disorders

Late last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a proposed rule to make it easier for providers to share the medical records of patients being treated for substance use disorders. Currently, providers are prohibited from sharing a patient's substance use disorder treatment information even if the patient grants access. The proposed rule would revise 42 CFR Part 2 to allow primary care providers to note within a patient's medical record when the patient discloses a substance use disorder treatment. The proposed rule would not apply to SUD treatment records that federally assisted SUD treatment programs send to primary care providers. HHS will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.


HRSA will be hosting a technical assistance webinar for the Ending the HIV Epidemic:  A Plan for America — Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Parts A and B Notice of Funding Opportunity on August 27th from 2:00pm – 4:00pm EDT.

AIDSVu has launched numerous new tools and resources aimed at supporting the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. These resources include:

  • A Deeper Look: Ending the Epidemic page, which provides an overview of the national plan, its goals and focus, as well as insights on areas targeted by the plan.
  • County-level profiles for the 48 counties with the highest burden of new HIV diagnoses that are being targeted by the initiative.
  • City-level profiles, including the cities targeted by the initiative: Washington, DC, and San Juan, PR.
  • State-level profiles, including the seven states with a substantial rural HIV burden being targeted by the initiative.
  • Regional-level profiles for the four U.S. regions as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, including the South which is home to 48% of the counties targeted by the initiative.
  • A national profile outlining the HIV burden across the nation.
  • Additional infographics on the initiative’s key strategies and other state and local jurisdictional plans to end the HIV epidemic.

Job Opportunities                   

HIV/AIDS Section Chief – Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health is seeking a leader to manage its HIV/AIDS Section. The HIV/AIDS Section Chief will oversee 55 staff, an estimated $100 million budget, three core functional areas of Prevention and Surveillance, Care and Planning, and work with stakeholders, community-based organizations and those impacted by the HIV epidemic in Illinois.

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

Federal scientists warned of coming opioid crisis in 2006

“Two of the government’s top scientists detected the first signs of the emerging opioid crisis back in 2006 and tried to warn health officials and the public of the coming catastrophe, according to a confidential document obtained by POLITICO.

The effort didn’t lead to any real action, and the toll of death and addiction climbed. More than 133,000 people have died from prescription opioids since then — and hundreds of thousands more from street drugs including heroin and illicit fentanyl.”