Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt September 3, 2019

Hill Happenings

Congress Eyes Temporary Funding Bill

With the fiscal deadline of September 30th fast approaching and Congress having less than two weeks' time to craft spending bills upon its return from August recess, House leaders are seemingly preparing for a three-month short-term spending extension known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded and running. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he thinks that a CR should extend funding through November 22nd while senior aides in the House have predicted it could go even longer, through December 6th. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has stated publicly that Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) will soon begin preparing a CR to avoid a shutdown, but he's doubtful that any decisions will be announced until late September.

Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans Request Update on SUPPORT Act Implementation

Last week, Republicans from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce requested an update from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the implementation of a section of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) (SUPPORT Act). The SUPPORT Act was signed into law in October 2018 to combat the nationwide opioid crisis. Section 7021 of the SUPPORT Act includes language from the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act, which required HHS to establish and update a dashboard to inform the public on federal resources and programs addressing substance use disorder. In a letter sent to HHS, the committee Republicans emphasized the need for a public information dashboard linking to HHS programs and publicly available data related to opioid and other substance use disorders (SUD) that is required under law by the SUPPORT Act.  

Administration Activities

US Surgeon General Visits Hawai'i Health & Harm Reduction Center

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams visited the Hawai'i Health & Harm Reduction (HHHRC) Center last month where he visited the organization’s offices, as well as the syringe exchange van in downtown Honolulu. Dr. Adams took the time to inquire about the program’s supplies and services provided to clients and to learn more about HHHRC’s overdose prevention training and distribution of intranasal naloxone.

HHS Declares Public Health Emergencies in Hurricane Affected States

Last night, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina as Hurricane Dorian heads toward the southeastern United States. Florida had also previously been declared a public health emergency. The public health emergency designation allows flexibility in how HHS serves patients, accesses funds and procures supplies. The department deployed approximately 200 medical personnel with equipment and supplies to assist in case of local emergencies while the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also activated its kidney community emergency response program to assist anyone who needs dialysis.

Resources

CDC has updated its Effectiveness of Prevention Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Acquiring or Transmitting HIV webpage featuring tables summarizing the latest evidence of effectiveness for the key HIV prevention strategies ART, PrEP, and condoms. Resources such as technical and consumer fact sheets on ART are available through CDC’s Treatment as Prevention website.

MMWR:  Changes in Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths by Opioid Type and Presence of Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine

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.

Hepatitis B Policy Fellow – Washington, DC

The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) is seeking a Hepatitis B Policy Fellow to coordinate the organization’s hepatitis B federal policy work. The fellowship is a year-long position that will continue AAPCHO’s work educating members of Congress and federal agency stakeholders of the impact of the opioid epidemic on increasing hepatitis B cases in the United States and work with external partners to increase awareness and administration of hepatitis B vaccination among adults, as well as increase hepatitis B testing. 

Upcoming Conferences

2019 United States Conference on AIDS

The 2019 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) begins this week in Washington, DC at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. This year’s conference will focus on the plan to end the HIV epidemic in America, where health departments, community-based organizations, People Living with HIV, People on PrEP, national organizations, health centers, health care providers, donors, activists, and federal leaders can come together to discuss implementation.

ASTHO 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit

ASTHO 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit will be held from Septmber 23-25 in Bethesda, MD. Over 300 public health leaders will discuss emergent issues in state and territorial public health and share best practices for creating optimal health. Registration is open until September 5.

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.

News Bulletin

Living with H.I.V. Isn’t a Crime. Why Is the United States Treating It Like One?

“Michael Johnson, a former college athlete convicted in 2015 of not disclosing his H.I.V.-positive status to sexual partners, was released on parole from a Missouri prison last month. Mr. Johnson, who is gay and black, had maintained his innocence, and there was no proof that he had transmitted the virus. And yet that didn’t seem to matter in the court of public opinion, or in the court of law.”