Newsletter: Policy

Policy Updates: Hill Happenings and Administration Activities

Hill Happenings

FY2024 Appropriations 

On Friday, March 1, President Biden signed into law a fourth bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) that temporarily extends funding levels while appropriators finalize a Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024) spending package. The new deadline for some federal spending bills is March 8, but the deadline for bills that fund larger agencies, including those funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) bill, is March 22. Additionally, on March 3, Congressional leaders announced a bipartisan deal for the first few funding bills facing the March 8 deadline.

Now that the LHHS deadline is delayed even further, the White House is scheduled to release the final President’s Budget Request to Congress (PBR) one week before all FY2024 bills are finalized on March 11. While non-binding, the PBR signals the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy, spending, and programmatic priorities for Fiscal Year 2025. The Biden-Harris Administration is expected to call for significant funding for health programs again in FY2025, despite House Republicans’ ongoing efforts to pass controversial policy riders and significant spending cuts in the FY2024 spending bill. 

NASTAD will continue to monitor the congressional appropriations process and advocate for the highest possible funding for HIV, hepatitis, and drug user health programs. 

Rep. Waters Leads Dear Colleague Letter Urging Robust Funding for Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs  

On February 23, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders that called for robust funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs in FY2024. The letter was a response to House Republicans’ proposal to cut $767 million from domestic HIV/AIDS programs, including the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, and the Minority AIDS Initiative. 60 Representatives signed onto the letter.

Administration Activities

HHS Updates National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Resources  

On March 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released updated resources for the upcoming National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Every year, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is observed on March 10. The HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH) leads this awareness day, partnering with the HIV community to spread the word about HIV prevention, care, and treatment for women and girls. This year’s NWGHAAD theme is“Prevention and Testing at Every Age. Care and Treatment at Every Stage.”This is a continuation of last year’s theme and highlights that more efforts are needed to increase the prevention and diagnosis of HIV among women and girls.  

HHS Engaging with Drug Companies on First-ever Medicare Drug Pricing Negotiations 

On March 4, HHS announced that all manufacturers participating in the first cycle of Medicare drug price negotiations have turned down initial offers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The 10 drug manufacturers responded with counteroffers, extending negotiations through the summer. If HHS and a participating manufacturer agree on a maximum fair price by the end of the negotiation period, those new negotiated prices will be published by September 1, 2024, and take effect beginning in 2026. The new negotiation process was authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act as a mechanism to reduce the cost of the most expensive drugs in Medicare plans. On March 1, a federal court ruled against a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s claim that the drug pricing program violated its rights as a company. 


CHLPI/NVHR: 2024 National Snapshot Report 

“The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR)  published their 2024 National Snapshot Report, along with new report cards for every jurisdiction covered by the Hepatitis C: State of Medicaid Access project. These updates mark an inflection point in the decade-long push to broaden access to HCV cures: the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently affirmed the right of people who use drugs to access treatment for HCV under the Americans with Disabilities Act, while a White House proposal for a groundbreaking National HCV Elimination Initiative awaits Congressional action.” 

HepVu: Opioid and HCV Mortality Launch 

“HepVu released new 2021 opioid prescription, overdose mortality, and pain-reliever misuse maps, as well as 2021 Hepatitis C mortality maps. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of deaths due to opioid abuse has increased sharply since 2015. As a result, new viral hepatitis cases are on the rise due to injection drug use. HepVu maps these opioid indicators to help researchers, policymakers, and the public better understand these overlapping epidemics.” 

GU O’Neill Institute:  

SAGE: State of LGBTQ+ Aging Survey 

SAGE’s Center of Excellence has partnered with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to conduct the “State of LGBTQ+ Aging Survey.” The survey seeks to better understand the current experiences, needs, and resiliencies of older people in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ+. The survey is now open to LGBTQ+ adults 50 years old and older. It takes 30 to 45 minutes and can be conducted online or over the phone. You can help spread the word about the survey with this flyer (also available in Spanish). 

SUSTAIN Program: LEARN Harm Reduction (HR) 

“SUSTAIN is excited to announce the launch of our sixth cohort of LEARN Harm Reduction (HR)…LEARN HR consists of virtual group and coaching sessions over the course of 7 months. Four to six organizations will be selected for each cohort. Organizations should also be prepared to design and complete a new project or activity centered around harm reduction within the 7 months of LEARN HR. Organizations can expect to contribute up to 6-8 hours a month to LEARN HR meetings and activities. Organizations will receive a $13,000 stipend to support costs related to project implementation and participants’ travel to the in-person gathering. No prior knowledge around harm reduction is required to participate in LEARN HR.” 

Job Postings 

Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator – Austin, TX 

Under direction of the Prevention Unit, provides highly advanced, senior-level consultative services and technical assistance as the DSHS viral hepatitis prevention coordinator. Oversees implementation and maintenance of viral hepatitis prevention efforts by identifying ways to integrate viral hepatitis prevention, vaccination, testing, and linkage to care into existing public health, clinical care, and community settings. Responsible for developing a DSHS viral hepatitis prevention plan as well as legislatively-mandated plans, including working with branch staff to solicit input from the public, including experts on Hepatitis, on the tenets of the plan. Apply by April 23. 

Program Content and Training Specialist, Supporting Harm Reduction Programs (SHaRP) – University of Washington 

This position is part of a cooperative agreement award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide technical assistance about monitoring and evaluation to syringe services programs (SSPs) as part of the National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Center. One of the primary projects of this award is to provide technical assistance (TA) to SSPs for monitoring and evaluation activities. The University of Washington is working in collaboration with the CDC, SAMHSA, NASTAD, the National Harm Reduction Coalition, and other TA partners to provide a suite of technical assistance support to individual programs.  

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. 

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.

News Bulletin

ObamaCare faces key hearing after Texas ruling 

“A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments Monday on the Biden administration’s appeal of a case that threatens the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) promise of free preventive care to more than 150 million people. A federal judge in Texas last year ruled that the law’s mandate requiring employers and insurers to cover a host of preventive services, like certain cancer screenings and HIV prevention, was unconstitutional. The ruling also invalidated the law’s requirement that employers cover preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication for HIV prevention.” 

Nitazenes Have Entered the Drug Scene. Now What? 

“Nitazenes are a class of synthetic opioids, also known as the benzimidazole opioids, which have received more and more attention as they are being detected with increasing frequency in street drugs and overdoses. Media coverage has primarily focused on nitazenes being "more potent than fentanyl," and a cause for concern in our ongoing overdose crisis.” 

Will Religious Freedom Claims Trump Public Health? Braidwood And HIV Prevention 

Braidwood Management v. Becerra, scheduled for oral argument in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today, March 4, has the potential to undermine decades of bipartisanship and groundbreaking innovation aimed at ending the transmission of the HIV virus that causes AIDS. This would have long-lasting consequences for preventive health care and society in general. Even more broadly, the case has received significant attention for its potential to essentially decimate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) guarantee of coverage without cost sharing for hundreds of categories of free preventive health care.