Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir April 9, 2018

Hill Happenings

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a bipartisan discussion draft of “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.” We are pleased that the legislation includes funding for CDC to address HIV and hepatitis infections associated with injection drug use. Among the new programs and initiatives:

  • Grants for communities to set up comprehensive opioid recovery centers
  • New HHS guidance on best practices for operating recovery housing
  • Permanent authority for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication-assisted treatments
  • New flexibility and powers for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop research

The committee will hold a hearing on April 11 to consider the package. NASTAD will continue to advocate for funding for CDC as it relates to the opioid epidemic.  

Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant

NASTAD signed onto a letter urging members of Congress to support at least $660 million for the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant in the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education & Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Administration Activities 

Affordable Care Act Enrollment

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that about 11.8 million people bought 2018 coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) federal and state-based exchanges during the shortened open enrollment period. Below are highlights from the report:

  • 27% of enrollees were considered new consumers
  • 63% of consumers selected silver plans; 29% selected bronze plans; and 7% selected gold

2018 National STD Prevention Conference

The 2018 STD Prevention Conference will be held August 27-30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Registration for the conference is now open. Early registration ends on May 31.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Global HIV & TB

Hank Tomlinson, Ph.D. has been appointed Director of the Division of Global HIV & TB (DGHT) in the Center for Global Health. Dr. Tomlinson previously served as the Principal Deputy Director for DGHT and as the Acting DGHT Director since October 2017. From 2014-2017, Dr. Tomlinson worked in CDC’s country office in Abuja, Nigeria, first as the Deputy Director for Programs and then as the Country Director. 

Antibiotic Resistance 

According to a recent CDC Vital Signs report, "health departments working with the CDC's Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network found more than 220 instances of germs with "unusual" antibiotic resistant genes in the United States last year." The report also included a fact sheet on strategies for best containing antibiotic resistant infections.

Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and May 19thmarks the 7th annual Hepatitis Testing Day in the U.S. The CDC has provided free tools in the Hepatitis Awareness Month and Testing Day Resource Center helpful in supporting your awareness activities and testing events. 

To further raise awareness and promote testing during May, please consider participating in the Be #HepAware Thunderclap on May 19th. Thunderclap is a tool that allows supporters to sign up in advance and share a unified message simultaneously across social media platforms to create a wave or “thunderclap”. 100 supporters are needed for the Thunderclap to take effect, so please sign up. Contact schen1@cdc.gov for more details.

Opioid Research

NIH is nearly doubling funding for opioid research with a new initiative called Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) that will include research to develop nonopioid pain therapies and better options for treating opioid misuse, director Francis Collins announced. The (HEAL) initiative will include a long-term study to follow patients after acute onset of pain and post-surgery to try and identify biomarkers that predict which patients will get transition from acute to chronic pain. NIH is dedicating $1.1 billion to opioid-related efforts in FY2018, compared to the $600 million spent in FY2016.

Surgeon General

On Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory that encouraged more people to routinely carry naloxone. The advisoryemphasizes “the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.”

Resources

Managing HIV and HCV Outbreaks Among People Who Inject Drugs: A Guide for State and Local Health Departments

Tennessee Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) & Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Outbreak Response Plan

Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids, Cocaine, and Psychostimulants — United States, 2015–2016

Hepatitis C Warmline: “Our expert hepatologists, clinical pharmacists, infectious disease specialists, primary care-trained physicians, and advanced practice nurses are standing by to answer your questions.”

News Bulletin

Duke Hospital Celebrates First HIV-Positive Organ Transplant In Southeast

“The university says Stanley Boling is the first HIV-positive person in the Southeast to receive an organ from an HIV-positive donor. Boling had a liver transplant at Duke on December 22, and his doctors say he is in good health nearly four months later.”

Lawsuit claims CVS unintentionally revealed HIV status of 6,000 customers

“CVS Health is being sued for allegedly revealing the HIV status of 6,000 patients in Ohio. A federal lawsuit claims CVS mailed letters last year that showed the status of participants in the state's HIV drug assistance program through the envelopes' glassine window.”

'Test and Treat' approach to HIV epidemic could save lives

“The STD/HIV Program for the state's health department is battling HIV rates in Louisiana with a combination of prevention and treatment tactics. This includes marketing and making preventative medication called PrEP (pre- exposure prophylactics) more available to high-risk candidates. Those include men who have sex with men; transgender women; intravenous drug users; people who engage in risky sexual behavior, such as having sex with multiple partners in a span of six months; or are with a partner who is HIV positive and not being treated effectively. Additionally, they are looking at working with clinics to try to establish more places that provide testing and rapid treatment, according to DeAnn Gruber, the director of the program.”

Reminders

Please fill out this RSVP form and return by Wednesday, April 18 to let us know if you are doing Hill visits during this year’s Annual Meeting.