Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt November 4, 2019

Hill Happenings

Congress Continues to Push for FY2020 Appropriations Passage before Year’s End

On Thursday, the Senate passed a four-bill minibus containing appropriations for Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Interior by a vote of 88-5. H.R. 2740, which contains Defense and Labor-HHS appropriations bills failed its first procedural motion in a 51-41 vote Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke last week and agreed to continue to aim for the passage of all twelve fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills by the end of 2019. NASTAD and other organizations continue to advocate for funding increases to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program after the Senate proposed cutting the program by $63 million following an increase in the House. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has also stated that he and Senator McConnell agreed that any short-term spending deal to keep the government open shouldn’t extend past December 2019. In the event that a continuing resolution (CR) is passed, NASTAD has advocated that funding for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative be included as an anomaly so that funding and agency authority for the initiative may be implemented. The current CR keeping the government open expires on November 21st.

Administration Activities

FDA Unveils Recommendations to Prevent Drug Shortages

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released Drug Shortages: Root Causes and Potential Solution outlining what it identifies as the causes for drug shortages and potential solutions to the problem. The Drug Shortages Task Force found that a lack of incentives for manufacturers to produce less profitable drugs, along with challenges that make recovery from market disruption difficult, and problems with market quality systems serve as the three biggest drivers of shortages. It recommends developing a voluntary rating system to incentivize drug manufacturers to invest in higher quality management for their facilities and promote sustainable private sector contracts.

HHS Office for Civil Rights Resolves HIV Discrimination Complaint

The Department for Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently resolved a complaint against the Florida Orthopaedic Institute that alleged the practice unlawfully cancelled a surgery due to a patient's HIV positive status. HHS OCR has amended Florida Orthopaedic’s nondiscrimination policies and revised its procedures for dismissing any patient from the practice after the practice banned the patient and cited their complaint to HHS as the basis for doing so, which also violated HHS OCR’s policies on discrimination. Florida Orthopaedic also agreed to provide staff with multiple trainings on HIV, federal non-discrimination laws, grievance procedures, and the requirement to refrain from retaliatory actions.

HHS to Cease Enforcement of Nondiscrimination Provisions in Federal Grants

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would no longer enforce rules barring organizations from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, or religion in any of its grants, including HIV/AIDS programs and services or rules that force grant receipients to treat same-sex marriages as valid. The changes have been proposed under the regulatory rulemaking process, but HHS has also announced it will not be waiting until the process is finished to begin enforcing these changes in policy. The rules were first established in 2016 under the Obama administration and in its announcement, HHS argued that the previous administration did not ensure that these rules would avoid having a significant economic effect on small organizations or place an undue burden on religious organizations. It is expected that there will be legal challenges to the decision.


NASTAD has released a preview of its updated version of PrEPcost.org, which assists PrEP navigators in comparing the best health insurance coverage options for their patients. The site is now available in 32 states, allowing users to preview health plans and prepare for the 2020 Open Enrollment. The 2020 version of PrEPcost.org allows users to verify formulary coverage for Truvada and Descovy, the two medications approved for PrEP.

NASTAD has also created a new Undetectable = Untransmittable: Health Department Engagement Map, highlighting various state, county, and local health departments that have endorsed and are implementing the Prevention Access Campaign’s Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) consensus statement and message.

MMWR:  Racial/Ethnic and Age Group Differences in Opioid and Synthetic Opioid–Involved Overdose Deaths Among Adults Aged 18+ Years in Metropolitan Areas — United States, 2015–2017

Job Opportunities

NASTAD is pleased to announce the application cycle is open for the 2020 Minority Leadership Program (MLP).  MLP serves as a space rooted in social justice for health department staff of color to engage in critical conversations about job advancement, institutional barriers, managing emotions and burnout, racial and gender-based microaggressions, triggers, staff and project management, communication, and more. Applications for the Minority Leadership Program 2020 Cohort are due on Friday November 15, 2019. To apply, visit: https://www.nastad.org/minority-leadership-program-mlp.

Director of Policy – Illinois

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is seeking a Director of Policy with content expertise to stay abreast of critical healthcare delivery systems including Medicaid, Housing, Ryan White, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and influence health policy. The position will serve as the lead for policy development and work on identifying and resolving policy-related issues across the agency with other departments.

Director of Government Relations – Illinois

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is seeking a Director of Government Relations to develop and manage AFC’s federal, state and local government relations activities. The position will be the point person for HIV-related state legislative matters regarding appropriation, health care reform, and policy issues impacting the social determinants of health and health disparities.

Executive Director – Southern United States

The Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) is seeking an Executive Director to manage a remote team while overseeing the development of a research agenda, participating in policy discussions, and engaging in advocacy efforts. The position will require travel throughout the region (and to SAC’s offices if they do not choose to live in Birmingham), the ability to handle media, and build relationships with funders and members of the community.

Chief, Center for HIV Prevention and Health Services – Maryland

The Maryland Department of Health is seeking a Chief for its Center for HIV Prevention and Health Services to oversee a staff of 30+ individuals, managing a budget of approximately $25 million, and maintaining alignment with all requirements of the federal grants under the Center's purview. The position also serves as a representative of the Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau on behalf of HIV issues and will maintain collaborative relationships with local health departments and other community partners.

Associate Director, Strategy and Implementation – Georgia

CDC is seeking an Associate Director for Strategy and Implementation for its Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. The position will oversee the Division’s Strategic Implementation Unit within the Office of the Director and be responsible for identifying and developing public health policies, partnerships, and initiatives improving access to viral hepatitis prevention and treatment services across all populations, especially those with disproportionate burden of disease or barriers accessing services.

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 the release of any patient living with HIV.

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.

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.

News Bulletin

Syringe exchange saved billions in HIV-related costs in Philadelphia, study finds

“Using actual HIV data from 1984 through 2015, researchers used a modeling technique to predict how many cases of HIV would have been diagnosed during the 10-year period after the opening of Prevention Point had the syringe exchange program not started. They found that between 1993 and 2002, 10,592 cases of HIV were avoided because of access to clean syringes.”

HealthHIV Launches HIV Prevention Certified Provider™ Program

“HealthHIV announces the launch of the HIV Prevention Certified Provider™ (HIV PCP) Program. The HIV PCP is an online, self-paced CME curriculum composed of five (5) free e-learning courses in HIV prevention. Clinicians who complete the curriculum receive the HIV Prevention Certified Provider national designation and certificate, recognizing competency in the clinical and cultural aspects of HIV prevention services, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).”