Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Meredith McCarthy June 22, 2020

Hill Happenings 

World Health Organization Funding Update 

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have urged President Trump to walk back his decision to terminate the U.S.'s relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), arguing that more change would be made by staying a member. The U.S. currently contributes $57.9 million in annual mandatory dues to the WHO and an additional $450 million in voluntary contributions. According GOP aides, the hope would be for the U.S. to build an international coalition to help enact changes at the international body.  

The Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination has circulated a petition in support of the WHO. The petition details the important role that the WHO plays in global health, as well as the consequences of withdrawing from the organization. NASTAD has signed on to the letter.  

Senate Health Panel Signals Support for Telehealth Revamp 

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee called on Medicare to permanently lift restrictions that typically limit coverage of telehealth to rural areas, while committee members said they would push for other changes in upcoming coronavirus relief bills. HELP Committee members during the first Congressional hearing on telehealth’s pandemic-related boom indicated they’re still in the early stages of understanding the implications from the rapid expansion in virtual care. 

FY2021 Appropriations Updates 

The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) is expected to begin mark-ups several weeks from now, after the chamber has returned from the August recess. Mark-ups were previously scheduled to begin this week. With this delay, it is most likely that the Senate will be heading towards a continuing resolution.  

House Appropriations Chairwoman, Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), sent out a letter to the committee’s 53 members outlining their schedule for markups. Subcommittee markups will begin the afternoon of July 6 and take place over the following two days as well, with all 12 bills spread out over that tight timeframe. The panel will then hold a dry run for full committee markups after the last subcommittee reports its bill on July 8. 

Administrative Activites

HRSA/HAB and CDC/DHAP Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan Guidance Postponement 

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) jointly announced the postponement of the next iteration of Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan Guidance. The updated guidance (for calendar years 2022-2027) was originally scheduled to be released this summer, but is postponed due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on health departments. HRSA/HAB and CDC/DHAP will notify award recipients of the updated timeline for the guidance and submission later this year. 

CDC Features Viral Hepatitis on List of Winnable Battles 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added viral hepatitis to the Winnable Battles list.The CDC’s goal is to reduce new viral hepatitis infections and decrease deaths associated with viral hepatitis is in alignment with the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (Action Plan). The Action Plan amplifies national efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis in the United States, and details strategies to involve stakeholders from various sectors, including federal, state and local; both public and private.  

HRSA to Host Second Aging with HIV Webcast on June 25 

HRSA HAB is hosting its second national webinar in its series on Thursday June 25, 2020, titled “Psychosocial and Support Needs for People with HIV who are Aging in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program." 

Human Rights Campaign Asks FDA to Allow Gay and Bisexual COVID-19 Survivors to Donate Convalescent Blood Plasma 

The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda, and several other organizations sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Hahn urging the agency to permit gay and bisexual survivors of COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma for research into finding a treatment for the virus. The current three-month deferral period for blood donations, also applies to plasma. The current pandemic has created an urgent need for convalescent plasma from those who have developed antibodies to COVID-19, the most promising therapeutic treatment immediately available.  


States Continue to Face Large Shortfalls Due to COVID-19 Effects 

new report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that the state budget shortfalls expected from the COVID-19 economic fallout will total a cumulative $615 billion over the current state fiscal year (which ends June 30th in most states), the next fiscal year, and the fiscal year after that. The new projections further demonstrate the need for Congress to pass additional economic relief measures. 

Black Lives Matter in Harm Reduction 

The Coalition for Syringe Access (CSA) has issued a solidarity statement on the Black Lives Matter movement. The statement denounces the systemic violence that the Black community has had to endure for centuries. The statement also details the violence that has been inflicted on the Black community due to the War on Drugs. Harm reduction programs can find guidance from CSA on how to move forward with program operations, while being anti-racist and an ally to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. The statement was signed onto by 17 organizations. NASTAD has also signed onto the letter. 

Proposed Public Health and Public Safety Pathways for Criminal Justice System Responses to COVID-19 

The Center for HIV Law and Policy, in collaboration with several other organizations, jointly issued “Proposed Public Health and Public Safety Pathways for Criminal Justice System Responses to COVID-19" In the weeks that have followed, these principles and recommendations for a public health-oriented approach to COVID-19 have become even more relevant. Increased arrests including those of protesters across the nation are stifling efforts to maintain social distancing, reduce jail populations and use cite and release policies laid out in our document. NASTAD has also collaborated on the proposal.  

Upcoming Conferences 

USCHA 2020 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS (USCHA) will take place online Oct. 21-23. Registration is free for the first 4,000 community/non-profit registrants. All content will be available online for free after the conference. The 2020 meeting will have five plenaries, 60 workshops, 14 institutes, and a Virtual Exhibit Hall.  

Job Postings 

Senior Manager—Washington, DC 

NASTAD is seeking a Senior Manager for the Prevention team. The Senior Manager provides leadership and implementation of technical assistance (TA) activities for NASTAD’s Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) project. The position leads community engagement TA for 24 county health departments and six state health departments in the Southern United States and is specifically related to Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) plans. The position will work across NASTAD’s Prevention team to align CBA and EHE-related deliverables, and will lead the development of community engagement strategies for diverse communities, including racial minorities, women, people living with HIV, people who use drugs, people who identify as transgender, people who identify of lesbian, gay or bisexual, and people who are unstably housed. The Senior Manager supervises a team of project consultants and maintains a strong working relationship with external project partner organizations. 

Senior Associate— Washington, DC  

NASTAD is seeking a Senior Associate for the Health Systems Integration team. The Senior Associate, Health Systems Integration provides administrative and substantive support for NASTAD’s technical assistance and capacity building assistance for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Programs (RWHAP), with a focus on Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative activities. This position works closely with entire Health Systems Integration and Health Care Access teams to support programmatic activities.  

Manager— Washington, DC  

NASTAD is seeking a Manger for the Policy & Legislative Affairs team. The Manager, Policy & Legislative Affairs plays a vital role in managing the development and implementation of hepatitis-related federal appropriations strategies, including for the NASTAD convened Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership, and legislation related to hepatitis prevention, care and treatment issues.  This position manages the day-to-day activities necessary to implement hepatitis-related federal legislative and regulatory goals.  The Manager also interfaces with governmental agencies, national organizations, coalitions and other non-governmental organizations to promote NASTAD’s legislative and policy agenda.  In addition, this position interfaces with NASTAD members to develop their understanding of the federal policy process and respond to their inquiries.  Demonstrated ability to execute projects in a timely manner is also required.    

Manager— Washington, DC  

NASTAD is seeking a Manager for the Health Care Access team. The Manager, Health Care Access plays a vital role in expanding the organization’s capacity and priority of addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs within health departments. Under direction from the Associate Director, Health Care Access, the Manager will play a key role the Health Care Access programs technical assistance efforts, having a strong voice in the development of NASTAD’s cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) and Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative activities. The Manager will provide quantitative analytics and qualitative analyses regarding the impact of health system changes on health department programs and people living with HIV (PLWH). 

Deputy Director—Maryland  

This position serves as the Deputy Director of Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau within Prevention and Health Promotion Administration. The Deputy Director collaborates with the Director in planning, implementing and evaluating the internal operations of the Bureau in support of efforts to develop healthcare delivery systems responding to the needs to all Marylanders. Key functions include administrative oversight, regulatory and programmatic compliance, operational planning and evaluation, and staff development. The Deputy Director provides administrative supervision to the Bureau leadership team, which includes the Chiefs of the Centers of HIV Prevention and Health Services, the Maryland AIDS Drug Assistance Program (MADAP), HIV/STI Integration and Capacity, Harm Reduction Services, Viral Hepatitis, HIV Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation, and STI Prevention. The position may act for the Director at his/her direction.  

Manager —Texas 

The Texas Department of State Health Services' TB/HIV/STD Section is seeking a Manger for their TB/HIV/STD Health Communication and Community Engagement Group. The Manager performs complex managerial work overseeing the daily operations and activities of the Health Communications & Community Engagement Group in the Integrated Operations & Policy Unit, TB/HIV/STD Section. Duties include evaluation, direction, and coordination of complex programmatic and administrative activities; participation in the development and evaluation of goals and objectives; preparation of information in response to legislative requests; development and evaluation of budgets, grants and contracts; manages development and interpretation of policies and procedures; development, implementation and oversight of security and confidentiality guidelines and procedures; liaison with information technology (IT) staff and participation and oversight of specific IT projects, including coordination of communication and training around projects; manages the work of the Senior Public Health Adviser; manages HIV prevention training contract; approval for purchasing, timesheets, travel, and other personnel related documents; completion of routine and special assignments or projects; leadership of Health Communications & Community Engagement Group including the development, coordination, and evaluation of effective health communication efforts, program collaboration, and services integration.  

ADAP Manager—Alaska  

The Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association is seeking a Manager for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The Manager is a member of the client service team and is responsible for implementing the ADAP program and supervising the ADAP Coordinator. The ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of insurance programs, eligibility and enrollment, including Medicaid, Medicare part D, and open enrollment through the Affordable Care Act. In collaboration with community partners, the ADAP Manager will provide individualized client-level care coordination services and other assistance to maintain access to medical care and HIV treatment through the ADAP. This includes the provision of benefits counseling and direct assistance with applications for public and private insurance and other financial assistance programs.  

Assistant Commissioner— Maryland   

The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) is seeking an Assistant Commissioner to lead the Bureau of Communicable Disease and Outbreak Control. This senior management position will lead a talented team responsible for communicable disease investigation, outbreak control and emergency preparedness programming. The incumbent will also be responsible for developing and implementing agency wide policies related to health department readiness to respond to public health emergencies. The incumbent will report directly to the Deputy Commissioner for BCHD's Division of Population Health & Disease Prevention. 

Chief of Global Communications– Flexible    

Prevention Action Campaign (PAC) is seeking applicants for the Chief of Global Communications (CGC). The CGC is a critical senior global leadership position responsible for building a new communications function and team to oversee PAC's communications work with domestic and international partners. Working closely with the PAC senior leadership team and ambassadors, and in collaboration with U=U partners, the CGC will develop and implement PAC's new communications strategy. The communications team will create, curate, and share outstanding U=U resources to support and expand U=U's growing network and build upon the movement's success disseminating the U=U science worldwide. 

Community Health Worker/Contact Tracer—Maryland 

The Baltimore Health Corps is looking for a Community Health Worker/Contact Tracer to assist in addressing the economic and public health crises caused by COVID-19. The Community Health Worker (CHW) will be a part of the COVID-19 response team at the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD). Under general supervision by a direct supervisor, the Community Health Worker will be working as a public health representative. The person will be working on activities such as contact tracing (approximately 70%), public health messaging (approximately 20%), and any other public health activities as directed (10%). As the needs to the response will change over time, the role of the CHW will also adapt to public health needs. 

Viral Hepatitis Policy Fellow—Washington, D.C./Remote 

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable seeks a Viral Hepatitis Policy Fellow to coordinate its policy work. The Viral Hepatitis Fellowship is a year-long remote position, with the possibility of renewal. Due to the need for meetings with federal lawmakers, the employee shall be based in commuting distance to Washington, D.C. The Fellowship will be awarded to a medical, public health, or policy professional interested in health equity; specifically in strengthening the collaboration between key stakeholders and government, highlighting key gaps in policy and service delivery, and working with partners to address the disparate impact of viral hepatitis among underserved populations. 

Director of Operations—Washington 

The Hepatitis Education Project (HEP) is seeking a Director of Operations to join their Executive Team. As a member of the Executive Team, the Director of Operations will report to the Executive Director (ED) and will maintain positive community partnerships and ensure smooth functioning of the agency. The Director of Operations will further develop and streamline HEP’s operations infrastructure. They will work with the Executive Team in activities related to improving HEP’s organizational health and enhancing HEP’s strategic vision and commitment to health equity. The Director of Operations will work closely with the Executive Team and Board of Directors to ensure HEP’s mission and values are reflected in the plan for long-term sustainability and viability of the organization. 

News Bulletin 

Federal Appeals Court Eyes Hepatitis Treatment for Inmates 

“With a potential $28 million price tag looming, a federal appeals court heard arguments in a long-running dispute about whether Florida is providing proper treatment to prisoners with hepatitis C. The class-action lawsuit centers on the use of an expensive type of medication known as “direct acting anti-virals” to treat hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease that can be fatal. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last year ordered the Florida Department of Corrections to provide the treatment to all inmates with the disease, but the agency appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The state does not dispute that direct acting anti-virals should be given to inmates with later stages of hepatitis C. But the corrections department contends that it would not violate prisoners’ constitutional rights if they did not receive the high-cost medication in the early stages.” 

Trump praises scientists for developing AIDS vaccine that doesn’t exist 

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday falsely suggested that scientists have developed a vaccine for AIDS, the late stage of HIV infection in which the virus badly damages the immune system.” 

POZ at Home: When Is Fat Not Just Fat? 

“In this episode of POZ at Home, POZ Science Editor Liz Highleyman has a conversation with Tim Horn and Lillibeth Gonzalez about lipodystrophy, which is abnormal body fat distribution. Click here to register.” 

Public Health Cannot Go It Alone on COVID-19

“The fractures in our public health and health care systems become most evident when we need these systems most—during crises and emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different, except in its scale. Some have made the case that focusing on private insurance mandates is not the way forward. Instead, the argument goes, the public health crisis warrants a public health response, and we should leverage publicly administered funds to pay for services, not insurance companies. I respectfully disagree.”