Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities
Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations
On February 17, the Senate passed the House-approved continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 6617), successfully averting a federal shutdown by extending current federal funding levels through March 11. The new CR will buy appropriators more time to build upon their Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) bipartisan topline appropriations agreement and finalize an omnibus spending package.
Senate Republicans threatened to block the CR, citing opposition to certain harm reduction services in the Biden Administration’s first-ever federal harm reduction grant program and other pandemic-related policy issues. Republican Senators did not introduce an amendment targeting the harm reduction grants, and other pandemic-related amendments did not receive enough votes to pass. NASTAD is working in coalition to ensure that Congress protects harm reduction services in the FY2022 spending package and advocate for the removal of the prohibition on federal funds to purchase syringes and other safe consumption supplies.
NASTAD will continue to monitor the FY2022 appropriations process to advocate for the highest funding levels on behalf of HIV and hepatitis programs.
NASTAD Urges Congress to Take Action on Closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap
On February 22, NASTAD and the Partnership to End the HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Epidemics sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to close the health insurance coverage gap to reduce health disparities in HIV, viral hepatitis, and STD prevention and care. Over two million low-income individuals living in the 12 states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fall into the coverage gap, where they are both denied access to Medicaid and ineligible for subsidies to purchase private insurance on the ACA marketplace. The advocates highlight the outsized need to fix the coverage gap in southern states, which represent the epicenter of the HIV epidemic and are where 95% of uninsured individuals live. Additionally, the coalition points to closing the coverage gap as a critical tool to improve racial disparities in health care, highlighting that 60% of individuals in the coverage gap are people of color.
Senate Confirms Robert Califf to Lead FDA
On February 15, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Robert Califf (50-46) as the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, the top role in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf will now fill the FDA Commissioner role after a 13-month vacancy, during which Janet Woodcock led the division in an Acting Commissioner capacity. As FDA Commissioner, Califf will play a key role in the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 response strategy and lead efforts to stem the substance abuse and overdose crisis through rulemaking around opioids and other prescription drugs.
USPSTF Releases Draft Recommendation Statement for Syphilis Screening in Nonpregnant Persons
On February 15, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review on screening for syphilis infection in nonpregnant adolescents and adults. USPSTF issued a draft A grade, recommending screening for syphilis infection in persons who have ever been sexually active and are at increased risk for syphilis infection, including males, men who have sex with men, persons living with HIV, young adults, and persons with a history of incarceration, sex work, or military service. The 2022 update reaffirms the USPSTF’s 2016 A grade recommendation for screening nonpregnant adults for syphilis. USPSTF is seeking public comment on the proposed recommendation statement through March 14.
HHS Awards $55 Million to Improve Virtual Health Care at Community Health Centers
On February 14, HHS announced that it awarded nearly $55 million through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to improve access to and the quality of virtual health care. The grants will allow 29 HRSA-funded community health centers to implement and improve a range of virtual care options to better serve their communities, including telehealth, remote patient monitoring, digital patient tools, and health information technology platforms. Community health centers have increasingly utilized virtual care during the pandemic to minimize service delivery interruptions and reduce health disparities.
KFF Analysis: People With HIV in Non-Medicaid Expansion States: Who Could Gain Coverage Eligibility Through Build Back Better or Future Expansion?
“Overall, we find that an estimated 55,132 (or 23%) of non-elderly people with HIV in sampled non-expansion states (FL, GA, MI, NC, and TX ) could gain eligibility for new or enhanced subsidies under the Build Back Better. This is also the population that could gain Medicaid eligibility, if these states expanded their programs. The share ranges by state, from an estimated 18% in both North Carolina and Georgia to 28% in Texas.”
JAMA Article: Long-Acting Cabotegravir for HIV Prevention: Issues of Access, Cost, and Equity
“Without change, the access challenges facing long-acting cabotegravir may be similar to those encountered by previous PrEP products. The new approval, however, may provide an opportunity to consider a different approach to paying for and distributing PrEP medications, with equity at its center.”
Health Policy Manager – HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute
The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute is seeking a Health Policy Manager to help fulfill its policy goals to increase access and affordability of PrEP for the prevention of HIV and ensure patient access to healthcare and treatment for those with private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. The Health Policy Manager will be responsible for assisting in federal policy and advocacy efforts to develop and implement a national program to expand access and affordability of PrEP for the prevention of HIV. Applications close March 3, or until position filled.
HIV/STD Program Manager – Alaska
The Alaska Department of Public Health seeks a HIV/STD Program Manager (Nurse Consultant 2). The position serves as HIV/STD Program Manager and is responsible to develop, manage, and coordinate multiple statewide programs to detect and control HIV and sexually transmitted infections. The incumbent oversees and stimulates necessary policy and program development; seek and manage federal or other appropriate funding, oversees State grants and contracts for HIV and STD-related services; provides consultation/expertise to medical providers on HIV/STD treatment and care issues. The HIV/STD Program manager recruits, trains, and supervise program staff. Applications close March 11 at 5:00 PM AKT.
Senior Public Health Investigator – Houston, TX
The Houston Health Department seeks 12 Senior Public Health Investigators in the Bureau of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention to serve as Disease Intervention Specialists, Service Linkage Workers, and Patient Navigators. These full-time positions will report to various units including HIV Field Services, STI Field Services, Congenital Syphilis Field Services, Service Linkage Field Services, and PrEP Services. Applications close March 8.
Washington State Department of Health – Tumwater, WA
- Drug User Health Program Epidemiologist
- This Epidemiologist contributes to the organization by assuring that the fundamental activity of public health assessment is conducted in a timely and accurate way. It contributes specifically to the mission of the Infectious Disease Assessment Unit by developing data reporting and management systems, proposing and conducting epidemiologic investigations and corrective action, preparing datasets, conducting data analyses, and disseminating data for the Drug User Health program. Applications close February 22.
- Syringe Service Program Coordinator
- Reporting to the Integration, Hepatitis C & Drug User Health Programs Manager, the Syringe Service Program (SSP) Coordinator provides leadership and is responsible and accountable for stakeholder engagement and mobilization efforts that increase access to and utilization of syringe service programs (SSPs) and related efforts to address health disparities and health inequities in communities disproportionately impacted by infectious disease and overdose. This recruitment is open and continuous.
Department of State Health Services – Austin, TX
- Research Specialist V
- Under the supervision of the Group Manager, the MMP Project Coordinator/Research Specialist V performs advanced research and epidemiological work requiring specialized knowledge of health behaviors related to TB/HIV/STD transmission. Responsible for the coordination of activities involved in the implementation of the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) in Texas. Coordinates activities related to sampling frame development, healthcare facility, provider, and patient recruitment and data collection. Prepares budget and grant documents, data collection protocols and procedures, annual, interim progress reports, and other reports required by CDC or DSHS.
- Program Specialist IV
- Under the direction and supervision of the TB/HIV/STD Surveillance Group manager and Electronic Lab Reporting (ELR) Epidemiology Team Lead, conducts activities related to data management and processing of HIV and STD laboratory reports. This position will provide technical expertise in the interpretation of laboratory data, and will be responsible for monitoring data quality of incoming laboratory reports. This position, along with the ELR Epidemiology Team Lead, will work directly with laboratories to resolve any reporting issues and improve data quality. This position will assist in the design and implementation of new and/or revised methods for receipt and dissemination of electronic data to more effectively meet HIV/STD surveillance needs.
- Public Health & Prevention Specialist II
- Public Health and Prevent Specialist II performs a variety of tasks under the direction of the STD/HCV Epidemiology and Surveillance Group Manager related to the management of HIV/STD investigational data, including database maintenance, report tracking, data entry, and quality assurance. This position will aid in development of short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and objectives, and the development of standards for achieving strategic operational goals. Exercises independent judgment and professional discretion with extensive latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment to administrate, advise, plan, and coordinate duties.
- HIV/STD Director
- The HIV/STD Director works under the general direction of the Director of the TB/HIV/STD Section (THSS) of the DSHS. Performs advanced (senior-level) managerial work leading the day-to-day operations of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Unit. These programs include statewide programs for HIV clinical and social services; the provision of medications for the treatment of HIV and other STDs; and HIV/STD prevention.
Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Communicable Disease Unit
- Communicable Disease Unit Surveillance Program Manager – Cheyenne, Wyoming
- The Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Communicable Disease Unit is seeking a Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Manager for Cheyenne. This position will serve as the Communicable Disease (CD) Surveillance Program Manager and senior epidemiologist for the Communicable Disease Unit. This position oversees public health surveillance of four disease areas (HIV, STD, TB, and Viral Hepatitis). This position will monitor disease trends and utilize surveillance data to coordinate public health activities.
- Communicable Disease Epidemiologist – Cheyenne, Wyoming
- This position will serve as the Communicable Disease AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Coordinator, Wyoming TB Controller, and Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) for the Communicable Disease (CD) Treatment Program. Assist in outbreak response to ensure the safety of Wyoming residents; by interviewing cases for exposure information, updating news outlets on the progress of outbreak control, analyzing exposure data utilizing epidemiological and statistical methods.
Hepatitis Surveillance Data Analyst – New Orleans, Louisiana
This position is responsible for the data analysis activities for the Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV/Hepatitis Program (SHHP), in the Hepatitis Surveillance unit. Data utilized for Hepatitis Surveillance activities include Hepatitis laboratory data, Case Report Forms, Provider Report Forms, Linkage to Cure data, investigation data, Medicaid data, and data from related sources and programs. This position will implement and coordinate data analysis activities to monitor and evaluate progress toward meeting hepatitis elimination within the state. All activities must be completed in accordance with the security and confidentiality guidelines required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHHP.
Assistant Commissioner - Health Department – Baltimore, 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.
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.
If the Government Wants Harm Reduction, It Must Resist the Backlash
“Those of us who have worked in harm reduction, and those of us who use or have used drugs, are all too accustomed to this vitriol. Perhaps the Biden administration, which only recently claimed harm reduction as a pillar of its overdose strategy, was unprepared. But if the administration plans to continue to adopt harm reduction—and I really hope it does—it will need to be ready next time to respond with firm arguments based in science and compassion.”
111 Groups Urge Biden: Create a PrEP Grant Program to Prevent HIV
“Over 100 community-based organizations, advocacy groups and health centers sent a letter this month to President Joe Biden urging him ‘to support the creation of a national PrEP grant program to prevent HIV in the United States.’ The program, they say, will also help address related health disparities among Black Americans and Latinos… Among the 111 organizations that signed the letter, those leading the call to action are HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, NASTAD, and The AIDS Institute.”
Biden HHS estimates $30B needed in new Covid aid
“The Biden health department needs at least $30 billion to keep its wide-ranging Covid-19 response work going, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told congressional appropriators in charge of crafting a supplemental pandemic funding package on Tuesday. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the top Republican overseeing health funding in the upper chamber, told POLITICO Tuesday that Becerra talked to him and other lawmakers and staff that morning about the administration’s hope that the funding could be part of the expected supplemental bill that rides alongside the 2022 omnibus lawmakers are currently crafting.”