Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

By Mike Weir September 28, 2020

Hill Happenings

COVID-19 Relief and FY2021 Appropriations Updates

Congressional and Administration leaders have reached a deal on a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown – extending government funding through December 11th. The measure passed the House by 359-57, and it is expected to pass in the Senate and be signed by the President before the September 30th deadline. The Coalition for Health Funding sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to pass the fiscal year 2021 funding bills as soon as possible, citing examples of the harmful impact CRs have on public health and research programs. 

Congressional and Administration leaders remain in a deadlock over another round of COVID-19 stimulus. Negotiations are expected to continue through October and possibly until after the November election. NASTAD will continue to monitor the appropriations process and stimulus negations and advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs. 

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Nominee

Hearings are set to begin October 12 for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, with a Senate floor vote expected before the election. Senate Democrats are expected to focus on upcoming SCOTUS cases, including how Judge Barrett could be the deciding vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with the SCOTUS set to hear the latest ACA case on November 10.

Administrative Activity

White House Executive Orders

President Trump signed an executive order on healthcare, which declares it is the policy of the U.S. for people with preexisting health conditions to be protected. The executive order is not expected to have the force of law, so it is unclear if the Administration can require insurers to cover preexisting conditions through an executive order.

Draft Federal STI and Hepatitis Action Plan Open for Public Comment

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) released the draft Sexually Transmitted Infections National Strategic Plan 2021-2025 (STI Plan). All comments must be received by 5:00 PM ET on October 1, 2020. NASTAD previously submitted comments on the proposed STI Plan and will submit comments on the draft STI Plan.

OIDP also released the draft Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan: A Roadmap to Elimination (2021-2025) (Hepatitis Plan). All comments must be submitted electronically to HepatitisPlanComments@hhs.gov by 5:00 PM ET on October 8, 2020. NASTAD previously submitted comments on the proposed Hepatitis Plan and will submit comments on the draft Hepatitis Plan.

Health Department Call for Abstract Submission – Special Journal Issue

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are inviting submissions from health departments and their academic partners for a thematic supplement titled “The Evidence Base for Initial Intervention Strategies for Ending the HIV Epidemic in America.” CDC is interested in health department program experience and evidence of best practices for implementing the EHE strategies identified in the PS20-2010 NOFO. Topics may focus on strategies for implementing any of the EHE pillars: Diagnose, Prevent, Treat, or Respond. If you are interested in contributing a paper, please provide a 350-word unstructured abstract summarizing the paper’s topic by Friday, November 6, 2020. Please submit abstracts to Dawn Smith at dsmith1@cdc.gov. Local EHE counties are encouraged to submit abstracts to this special journal issue.

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

September 27 was National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD). The CDC provided free tools in the NGMHAAD Resource Center to help in supporting your awareness activities and testing events. In observation of NGMHAAD, the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention also released a Dear Colleague Letter.


Hepatitis Virtual Collaborative

Join NASTAD and The AIDS Institute on October 22nd for the first ever Hepatitis Virtual Collaborative! It is a partial-day opportunity for hepatitis and infectious disease advocates and patients from across the country to come together virtually to connect with each other and learn about what jurisdictions are doing to combat viral hepatitis in their communities through presentations and conversations. Best of all, it’s FREE!

Presentations will include hepatitis elimination strategies and how a syndemic approach must be taken that incorporates responses to the viral hepatitis epidemics, overdose prevention, and other public health efforts. Additional barriers to advancing hepatitis elimination will also be examined, including criminalization of hepatitis and drug use, discrimination and stigma concerns, treatment access issues in correctional settings, vaccination barriers, and health inequities. Click here to register now and stay tuned for more information on the agenda release and speakers in the coming weeks. Please reach out to Frank Hood (fhood@taimail.org) or Jasmine West (jwest@nastad.org) with any questions.


MMWR: Trends in Diagnosis of HIV Infection, Linkage to Medical Care, and Viral Suppression Among Men Who Have Sex with Men, by Race/Ethnicity and Age — 33 Jurisdictions, United States, 2014–2018

Webinar: Hepatitis C Community Navigation Training and Toolkit Launch

Date & Time: September 29 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Join the launch of to launch the Hepatitis C Community Navigation Toolkit – Improving Care for People Who Use Drugs and Other Impacted Populations. In partnership with the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), join NASTAD and our colleagues, Nirah Johnson and Diana Muñoz from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, for an interactive, virtual training experience designed to equip jurisdictions and partners with a hepatitis C model and navigation toolkit to explore lessons learned from the field, best practices, and how to make meaningful connections to navigate and get individuals linked to hepatitis C cure. The presenters will share how this toolkit can be practically applied to implement and strengthen hepatitis navigation programs.

NASTAD Webinar Series: Effectively Engaging Community in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Process Through Digital Technology

In collaboration with Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), NASTAD hosted a webinar series titled Effectively Engaging Community in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Process Through Digital Technology. The series, which launched in June 2020, aimed to support health departments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to accelerate jurisdictional efforts toward Ending the HIV Epidemic. Recordings of the webinars are listed below:

Webinar Recording: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Vaccination Efforts in People Who Inject Drugs

Presentation slides for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Vaccination Efforts in People Who Inject Drugs are now available, and more information about NASTAD's Hepatitis Testing Partnership, please visit here.

Insurance Coverage and Viral Suppression Among People with HIV, 2018

“Health insurance coverage and access to care improve health outcomes, including viral suppression, for people with HIV in the United States. Our previous work, based on analysis of nationally representative data from CDC’s Medical Monitoring Project (MMP), demonstrated that implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 2014 coverage provisions increased insurance coverage among adults with HIV. In this analysis, using the same data source and building on recent work, we provide a detailed analysis of coverage in 2018, including by state Medicaid expansion status, race/ethnicity, gender, and income.  For the first time, we include data on coverage among people with HIV by place of birth and sexual orientation.” The full report can be found here.

Job Postings

HIV Planner - HIV/STD DSHS Grant – UT Austin

The HIV Planner, in coordination with the UT-Austin Health Innovation and Evaluation Team and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) HIV Care Services Group and the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch Planning team, will perform comprehensive, advisory duties in developing, planning, and monitoring the development and implementation of HIV strategic, operational, program, and technical assistance plans.

HIV Surveillance Coordinator – Minnesota

This position will coordinate HIV/AIDS statewide surveillance activities including ongoing submission of datasets and reports, as part of an MDH Cooperative Agreement with the CDC. Responsibilities of this position include maintaining and working to modernize the HIV Surveillance and Laboratory Systems; ensuring complete and timely information to the Partner Services Unit for counseling of HIV-infected persons; and providing technical assistance to health care providers, other professionals, and the general public. Additional duties include the monitoring and evaluation of the statewide HIV/AIDS surveillance system, specifically in the area of laboratory reports and in conjunction, work to promote compliance with state communicable disease reporting rules and promote the submission of data electronically.

Program Director (Public Health) – Washington, DC

NGA is looking to add a bright, resourceful, and organized Program Director to our Center for Best Practices team. This position reports to the Director or Deputy Director. The Program Director’s primary responsibilities will be to manage the public health portfolio, including supporting governors in their efforts to lead the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key issue areas will include preparing for and responding to public health emergencies, strengthening state public health capacity and partnerships, improving COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, addressing the spread of infectious diseases, advancing chronic disease prevention efforts, and supporting health equity and reducing health disparities for at-risk populations, among other population and public health issues. This position is open until filled.

Open Positions – New York State

The New York State Department of Health, in partnership with Health Research, Inc, has various job openings, including some within the AIDS Institute. Please visit this link to learn about their current opportunities.

ManagerWashington, DC

NASTAD is seeking a Manager 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. 

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. 

Program Specialist IV — Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services is seeking a Program Specialist for the Epidemiology & Surveillance Department. Under the limited supervision of the STD/Hepatitis C Epidemiology and Surveillance Group Manager, uses knowledge to independently perform highly complex disease database management. Provides complex and advanced oversight of sexually transmitted disease (STD) data in the TB/HIV/STD Integrated System (THISIS). This includes effective, secure, and efficient storage, retrieval, and archiving of information from multiple program sites into the THISIS system, which includes local and regional health departments across the State. Provides programmatic consultative services and technical assistance to the THISIS users located at each of the remote sites statewide. Develops and implements procedures, standards and policies relating to the operations and design of THISIS and its STD components. Performs site reviews statewide of STD surveillance sites, this includes local and regional Health Departments. Assists in establishing goals and objectives for the statewide STD surveillance program and THISIS and monitors progress toward those goals and objectives. Works under limited supervision, with moderate latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgement.

News Bulletin

What STDs Can Tell Us About How To Fight COVID

“Sexual health experts say the lessons they’ve learned from both these triumphs and failures could make a major difference now in suppressing the coronavirus. Their insights suggest smart ways forward that might well cross party lines — including that you can't fix a problem just with finger-wagging and new rules, but you can't wish it away and move on with your life, either.”

New York Increases Access to Hepatitis C Treatment for Medicaid Patients

“The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI), and the Treatment Action Group (TAG) today applauded New York State (NYS) Medicaid for removing the requirement that new patients receive prior authorization approval for hepatitis C treatment. Additionally, NYS Medicaid will no longer impose sobriety screening requirements, which will help increase access to hepatitis C treatment for 223,700 individuals living with hepatitis C in New York.”

Southern Health Plans Often Require Preauthorization for PrEP

“Compared with Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace health plans in the Northeast, those in the South are a staggering 16 times more likely to require preauthorization of prescriptions for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. The widespread prevalence of this added bureaucratic hurdle among Southern private insurance plans available through the ACA (aka Obamacare) may help explain why the region has seen a lower rate of PrEP uptake than other parts of the country. Lower use of PrEP is particularly concerning in the South because that is where the epidemic is the most severe.”