Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir March 26, 2018

Hill Happenings

Budget and Appropriations

FY2018

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which funds the government through September 30, 2018 and completes FY2018. Information about the funding levels and bill language are detailed below. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The omnibus increases funding for the CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), by $10 million, for a total request of $1.13 billion. 

Division of Viral Hepatitis

The omnibus increases the Division of Viral Hepatitis by $5 million for a total request of $39 million. The increase is far lower than the hepatitis community request of $100 million. NASTAD is continuing to advocate for funding for infectious disease increase related to the opioid epidemic.

STD Prevention

STD prevention funding was restored to the FY2016 level, an increase of $5 million, for a program total of $157.3 million.

Division of HIV Prevention

The bill flat funds the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at $788.7 million. The breakdown of funding includes:

Program

FY2017

FY2018

HIV Prevention by Health Departments

$397.2 m

$397.2 m

HIV Surveillance

$119.9 m

$119.9 m

Activities to Improve Program Effectiveness

$103.2 m

$103.2 m

National Regional, Local, Community, and Other Organizations

$135.4 m

$135.4 m

School Health – HIV

$33.1 m

$33.1 m

TB Prevention

TB Prevention is funded at $142.3 million, the same level as FY2017.

Global Health

The bill flat funds CDC’s Global Health program for a program total of $128.4 million.

Other CDC Programs

The Center for Injury Prevention and Control received 648.6 million, with an increase of $350 million for Opioid Prescription Drug Overdoes Prevention activities.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Ryan White Program

The omnibus flat funds all parts of the Ryan White Program. While the President’s FY2018 Budget eliminated Part F Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) and AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs), the Appropriations Committees retained funding for these programs.

340B Drug Pricing Program

The 340B Drug Pricing Program is flat funded at $10.2 million at the Office of Pharmacy Affairs (OPA).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Minority AIDS Initiative

The omnibus rejected the President and the House’s proposed cuts and flat funded Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) activities at SAMHSA.

Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund

The omnibus rejected the President and the House’s proposed cuts to the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund.  SMAIF is funded at $53.9 million.

Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA)

HOPWA received an increase of $19 million, for a program total of $375 million.

FY2019

The Congressional Budget Justification for HRSA and CDC was released last week.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing with Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services on the FY2018 Budget Request.

Opioids

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee began reviewing several opioid-related measures intended to be part of a broad, bipartisan package that lawmakers aim to have on the House floor by Memorial Day.  Included in the review will be the Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018 authored by Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA-4) which would bring needed attention and funding to rising hepatitis C infections related to injection drug use.  NASTAD has sent a letter of support for the bill.  The Senate companion to this bill has been introduced by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) with Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) as cosponsors.

The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee also held a two-day hearing titled, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Prevention and Public Health Solutions.” Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat testified before the committee and highlighted the infectious disease consequences of the opioid epidemic.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant appointed state Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate. Hyde-Smith will succeed Thad Cochran (R-MS) who has battled health problems and will retire from his Senate seat April 1. The move makes Hyde-Smith the first female U.S. Senator in Mississippi history.

Right-to-Try

The House passed “right to try” legislation on Wednesday evening that would give patients with terminal illnesses a right to try unproven experimental treatments.

The measure, which was approved by a vote of 267-149, appears to have a good chance of becoming law. The Senate approved a similar proposal last year.

Administration Activities  

CDC Director

Robert Redfield, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has been named the 18th Director of the CDC.

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar issued the following statement: “Dr. Redfield has dedicated his entire life to promoting public health and providing compassionate care to his patients, and we are proud to welcome him as director of the world’s premier epidemiological agency. Dr. Redfield’s scientific and clinical background is peerless: As just one example, during his two-decade tenure at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, he made pioneering contributions to advance our understanding of HIV/AIDS. His more recent work running a treatment network in Baltimore for HIV and Hepatitis C patients also prepares him to hit the ground running on one of HHS and CDC’s top priorities, combating the opioid epidemic.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), sent a letter to President Trump, saying she was worried about Robert Redfield’s lack of public health experience, as well as his controversial past as an AIDS researcher.

Drug Pricing Initiative

HHS Secretary Alex Azar is bringing on CVS Caremark Vice President Daniel Best to head up the department's effort to lower drug prices.

Opioids

Last week, President Trump announced his long-awaited opioid plan. The plan includes a mix of administration actions and initiatives that would require new funds or laws from Congress. The plan involves three major components: education and prevention; law enforcement and interdiction; and treatment and recovery efforts. We will keep you updated as further developments occur.

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program FY2017 awards

The HIV/AIDS Bureau at HRSA has released final funding amounts for FY2017 for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part A, Part B, Part C EIS, Part C CD, and Part D.

STD Awareness Month Theme

For this year’s STD Awareness month, CDC is focusing efforts on the relationship between healthcare providers and patients with the theme: Treat Me Right. The STD Awareness Month website has been updated for 2018 and includes CDC prevention resources to share with your partners, member groups, communities, and others or to post to your website. There are updated fact sheets, brochures, online banners, STD testing site locators and much more.

News Bulletin

The Best of CROI 2018            

“Each year for the past quarter century, thousands of the world’s top HIV scientists have gathered at the United States–based Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) to share important scientific findings with their peers. This year’s conference, held in Boston March 4 to 7, was notably lacking in blockbuster presentations but was nevertheless rich with science that will fuel efforts to better control the global HIV epidemic as well as the overlapping hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic.”

A serious liver ailment is stalking Kentucky's children. But they aren't getting care

“A Courier Journal investigation found hepatitis C has skyrocketed among Kentucky births amid the state’s raging drug epidemic, but attempts to prevent, track and control the infectious, curable disease have fallen short. That means many kids don’t get the care they need, risking cirrhosis and liver cancer in adulthood — or even early death.”

Jail to Pay HIV-Infected Inmate Who Was Isolated for Months

“A Louisiana parish jail has agreed to pay $27,500 to compensate an HIV-infected prisoner for isolating him in segregated housing for approximately six months because he has the virus, according to a settlement agreement Thursday. The U.S. Justice Department's agreement with the Union Parish Detention Center also says the jail posted information on the prisoner's cell door that could allow others to infer his HIV status. On at least one occasion, a jail staff member deliberately revealed the prisoner's HIV status to another detainee, it adds.”

Resources

Please find this resolution regarding HIV criminalization and other areas of concern passed unanimously by the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates. 

Webinar: Update on Early Initiation of Treatment for HIV and Optimal Use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

HIV Prevention: Assessing Our Progress and Charting a Future Direction

Drug Overdose Deaths in Appalachia

Tuberculosis continues to decline in the U.S., but progress toward elimination is slowing

Fact Sheet: PEPFAR's 15th Anniversary

Kick-Off Announcement for the end+disparities ECHO Collaborative

  • To ensure all interested individuals can attend a Kick-Off session, multiple sessions covering the same content will be held at the following times. Please note that the same Zoom connection will be used across all four sessions.
    • March 26: 12-1 PM ET
    • March 29: 3-4 PM ET
    • April 4: 2-3 PM ET
    • April 6: 12-1 PM ET