Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt September 23, 2019

Hill Happenings

House Passes Short-Term Funding Bill

This past Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a short-term funding bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), by a vote of 301-123. The bill funds the federal government through November 21st. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week before all discretionary funding for the federal government runs out on Sept. 30.

Senate to Pass Four Spending Bills This Week

The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to debate and pass four appropriations spending bills tomorrow out of the Interior-Environment, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Homeland Security subcommittees. The fourth Legislative Branch bill will bypass its subcommittee and go to the full appropriations committee on Thursday alongside the other three bills. Subcommittee markups for the Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations bills still have yet to be rescheduled after being canceled over a “poison pill” amendment regarding the Title X gag rule. Senate Republicans have proposed In its proposed funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed $266 million in funding for the Ending the Epidemic initiative. The proposal matches the amount requested by the Trump administration for the initiative. The Transportation- HUD bill passed on Thursday included a proposed cut in funding of $63 million for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program, a proposal which many public health organizations, including NASTAD, have vehemently opposed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Unveils Drug Pricing Plan

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled her plan to lower drug prices last week. The plan would enact an international price index, capping U.S. drug payments for Medicare at an average of foreign prices. It would also require the federal government to negotiate the cost of at least 25 prescription medicines (with a maximum amount of 250 medications), using the international price as a maximum price, and extend the negotiated price to insurers and the commercial market at large. Seniors’ out-of-pocket drug expenses would also be capped at $2,000 annually. The plan includes many Trump administration ideas in an effort to gain bipartisan support, but all 24 Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a statement critical of the plan. The Committee’s Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the bill September 25, while the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Education and Labor will hold hearings sometime this fall with an eye on passage before the end of the year.

Administration Activities

CDC Releases 2017 National Progress Report on Viral Hepatitis

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its online 2019 National Viral Hepatitis Progress Report on the nation’s progress in preventing and controlling viral hepatitis, detailing trends in viral hepatitis vaccination efforts, disease incidence, and mortality. The United States failed to reduce the rates of reported infections for hepatitis A, reported acute infections for hepatitis C, or reported acute infections of hepatitis B for persons 19 years or older. This year’s report highlighted the importance of vaccinating vulnerable populations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, detecting and stopping ongoing transmission of hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, and improving testing and linkage to care and treatment for persons with chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C.  

HRSA Releases Inaugural Ryan White and AIDS Drug Assistance Program Client Data Report

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau released its inaugural Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Annual Client-Level Data Report last week. The report is the first publication of national ADAP client-level data submitted through the ADAP Data Report system and analyzes service utilization, demographic, and socioeconomic factors among clients served by ADAP. It includes client-level data based on age, race/ethnicity, federal poverty level, and health care coverage.

Homeland Security Reverses Decision on Deportation of Critically Ill Children

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that “USCIS is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order.” The notification is a reversal of the Trump administration’s previous decision to deport critically ill children and their families who are receiving life-saving medical treatment in the United States and follows an emergency hearing from the Oversight Committee on September 11th regarding the issue, and the announcement of another hearing originally scheduled for this week.

Ending the Epidemic

HRSA Announces Funding Opportunity in Rural States

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy announced a funding opportunity that could include five of the seven rural states prioritized in the first phase of Ending the HIV Epidemic. The announcement encourages applications for the Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program, which provides resources to help rural communities develop partnerships and jointly address health problems that affect the Delta region, including HIV. The program supports organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee to promote the planning, implementation, and development of health care networks to strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. HRSA has up to $12,000,000 available and anticipates making up to 12 awards for three-year projects that would begin in August 2020. Applications are due 12/06/2019.

NASTAD to Host Ending the Epidemic Engagement Webinar

NASTAD will host a webinar on Friday, September 27 from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST focused on Ensuring Gay, Bisexual, and other Men Who Have Sex with Men Are Engaged in Ending the HIV Epidemic Planning. The webinar will feature speakers showcasing their work in engaging GBM from the health department perspective (Tennessee and Massachusetts) as well as from both the health department and community perspective (Arizona).


National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be on this coming Friday, September 27. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided resources on the NGMHAAD page to help support awareness.

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National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) was September 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided resources in the NHAAAD Resource Center to help support awareness activities and testing events.

Job Opportunities                   

STI/HIV Branch Chief – Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is seeking a Chief for its STI/HIV Branch. The Branch Chief directs the work of Program Managers in the Branch by applying the methods of organizational management, strategic planning, project design and implementation, work planning, and public health practice, and working closely with Division leadership; developing, approving, implementing, and evaluating overall Branch and Division goals, objectives, policies, and procedures.

HIV Transitional Specialist – Washington state

The Department of Corrections’ Health Services Division in Washington State is hiring an HIV Transitional Specialist. The position supports the department’s vision of maintaining safe communities by providing support for and developing comprehensive release plans for people living with HIV. The position will also provide technical assistance to correctional health care staff upon initial screening or admission and prior to release of any patient living with HIV.

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.

Administrative Officer (UMAP) – North Carolina

North Carolina’s Division of Public Health is accepting applications for an Administrative Officer. This position will be responsible for managing the HMAP sub-program Uninsured/Underinsured Medication Assistance Program (UMAP), supervising the UMAP staff, and for assuring that the program is in compliance with all federal requirements.

Upcoming Conferences

NASTAD National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting

The NASTAD National HIV and Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting “Leveraging Integrated Programs to End the Epidemics” will be held December 3-5, 2019 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. Online registration will remain open until November 1 with early bird registration open until September 30.

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Institute

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Institute, part of the Southern Capacity Building Institute Series, will be held November 13-14, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Registration will be open through October 15.

ASTHO 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit

ASTHO 2019 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit will be held from September 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.