Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Garrett Eberhardt November 18, 2019

Hill Happenings

Appropriators Make Plans for Second Continuing Resolution as FY2020 Negotiations Continue

Following a meeting between House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) last week, Congress appears ready to pass another continuing resolution by Wednesday to keep the government open. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to file the continuing resolution sometime today. Congressional leadership has set its sights on December 20 as the deadline for the next continuing resolution as they continue to negotiate on budget allocations for the twelve fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills and funding for the southern border wall. NASTAD continues its own advocacy efforts on appropriations policies surrounding support for viral hepatitis funding, the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, and other public health initiatives. The Coalition for Health Funding, of which NASTAD is a member, released a statement commending Congress for working toward an agreement on budget allocations and passage of FY2020 appropriations bills passage of FY2020 appropriations bills.

Administration Activities

HHS Announces Changes to International Drug Pricing Proposal

Last week, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced proposed changes by the Trump administration for the International Pricing Index. The original proposal would have lowered certain Medicare Part B prices by tying the prices to lower prices paid in other developed countries. This would have lowered drug prices some, but they would still have been slightly higher than international prices. President Trump was not satisfied with this result and wanted prices that were lower than international rates. HHS is currently working on a new regulation aligned with the President’s desire that will be formally proposed through the federal regulation process and is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget. Drug industry insiders remain skeptical over the chances of the proposal moving forward and whether it could survive any legal challenges should it ever go into effect.

CMS Announces New Pricing Transparency Rules

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are issuing two new regulations to increase pricing transparency. Both the Calendar Year 2020 Outpatient Prospective Payment System & Ambulatory Surgical Center Price Transparency Requirements for Hospitals to Make Standard Charges Public Final Rule and the Transparency in Coverage Proposed Rule would make payer-negotiated rates for 300 shoppable services publicly available by 2021 and would require most employer-based group health plans and health insurance issuers price and cost-sharing information to participants, beneficiaries, and enrollees as well as more accurate estimates of any out-of-pocket costs they may be responsible for. The rules follow an earlier executive order signed by President Trump seeking to provide greater access to information for patients. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, Association of American Medical Colleges and the Children's Hospital Association have already announced their intentions to file suit over the new rules.

Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its 2017 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report Summary updating reporting conditions, case counts for eight states, and risk factor information for hepatitis A.

Ending the Epidemic

HHS Holds Public Webinar on PrEP Program

On Friday, the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) held a webinar on its new PrEP program in support of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative (EHE). During the webinar, HHS shared that while lab costs will not be covered under the program, patients are encouraged to utilize community health centers for laboratory work and prescriptions. The use of patient assistant programs are also encouraged for those seeking assistance. Patients need only provide a U.S.-based address to qualify for the PrEP program, which will begin at the start of December. HHS encourages community partners to utilize social media, healthcare providers, and other means to promote the program leading up to its launch.

Job Opportunities

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.

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.