Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt November 12, 2019

Hill Happenings

Appropriators to Resume Bipartisan Spending Talks This Week

Senate Committee on Appropriations Chair Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated that appropriators from both sides of the aisle will resume spending talks and negotiate the remaining issues over fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills. Sen. Shelby added that the dates of December 13th and December 21st were being discussed as possible deadlines for the next continuing resolution to keep the government open, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reiterated his intention to wrap up FY2020 appropriations before the end of the year. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has already informed members of the House to expect to vote on the next continuing resolution during the week of November 21st. The Trump Administration recently sent a letter to Sen. Shelby outlining its views on the current appropriations bills, including the Administration’s support for the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative funding at Indian Health Service.  

NASTAD has continued to advocate for numerous appropriations issues through its coalition partnerships, including anomaly funding, a mechanism for ensuring that certain programs remain funded and intact under a continuing resolution, for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative and increased discretionary funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Administration Activities

President Trump Announces Planned Nominee for FDA Commissioner

Last week, President Donald Trump announced his plans to nominate Stephen Hahn as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hahn currently works as the chief medical officer of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir will oversee the agency until his confirmation. Current acting FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless returned to his previous position as the director of the National Cancer Institute. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said he plans to move toward confirming Hahn as soon as possible.

Pair of Trump Administration Policies Halted in Federal Court

Last Wednesday, a federal judge overturned the Trump Administration’s expanded “conscience” rule, which allowed the government to pull federal funding from health care institutions, states, and cities if they prevented workers from objecting to medical procedures on religious or moral grounds. In May, the Administration announced the rule, asserting it was part of an expansion of civil rights protections for healthcare workers. The federal judge ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have the authority to implement major portions of the rule and that the agency’s justification was factually untrue. NASTAD, in partnership with AIDS United, NMAC, the National Coalition of STD Directors, and The AIDS Institute, advocated previously on the rule and the creation of HHS’ Office on Civil Rights’ Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.

In addition, a District judge in Oregon issued a temporary restraining order against a Trump administration proclamation requiring that immigrants prove their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States. The proclamation, which critics argued would favor the wealthy and prevent many U.S. citizens from bringing family members into the country, followed the administration’s public charge rule which was also blocked in federal court last month. The restraining order will remain in place for 28 days, while organizations challenging the law and the government gather and present evidence to the court in their favor.

Resources

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) will be hosting an informational webinar on its new PrEP program this Friday, November 15 from 2:30–3:30 p.m. EDT. The webinar will cover how the PrEP program supports the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative (EHE) and how PrEP works as a tool to help end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Registration for the webinar is restricted to the first 2000 registrants.

NASTAD has released a new Chair’s Challenge microsite, that highlights NASTAD Board Chair Johanne Morne’s challenge, The Time is NOW: End the Epidemics and contains an archive of successes and resources from previous challenges. In addition to the microsite, NASTAD has launched a map to better organize the health department success stories the organization has collected for the past four years.

amfAR has released an Issue Brief that assesses how the newly Expanded Mexico City Policy restricting non-U.S.-based or foreign nongovernmental organizations (fNGOs) from receiving U.S. Global Health Assistance if they preform, counsel on, or refer for abortion, or advocate for its liberalization will affect Global Fund grant funding and partner networks.

NASTAD, as part of the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose, sent a letter to Congress advocating in support of H.R. 2569, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 2019. The legislation would provide $100 billion in federal funding over the next ten years to states, local governments, and other organizations and institutions to support federal research and programs to prevent drug use while expanding access to prevention, harm reduction, addiction treatment, mental health services, and recovery support services, as well as provide incentives to promote the adoption of evidence-based practices in order to expand the mental health and addiction services workforce.

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.

Senior Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs – Baltimore

The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) is seeking candidates for a Senior Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs position. The position will serve as general counsel and principal legal advisor to BCHD's senior leadership team and will provide support throughout the agency on a wide range of legal matters including health law and regulatory compliance, health-related transactional matters, risk assessment, and affirmative litigation efforts with the City's Law Department.

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.

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. Registration is closed.

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Workshop

NASTAD’s HIV Cluster Response Workshop, part of the Southern Capacity Building Workshop Series, will be held November 13-14, 2019 in Atlanta, GA.

News Bulletin

Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly two decades

“For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has detected a new strain of HIV.

The strain is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.”