Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Week ending: February 15, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose

Elizabeth Warren’s ambitious plan to fight the opioid epidemic, explained

Elizabeth Warren (with Rep. Elijah Cummings) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act in 2018 which would authorize $100 billion over 10 years to address drug addiction by boosting addiction treatment and other policy initiatives to reduce overdose deaths. This bill is being compared to the model of the Ryan White Program which greatly minimized the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. The CARE Act has not moved far in the Congress yet but it hopes to go through some more edits as it still exemplifies a great start to addressing the issue. For more information, READ → https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/2/19/18214179/elizabeth-warren-opioid-epidemic-president-trump

 

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Military from Forcing Out HIV-Positive Airmen

Citing a lack of evidence that HIV should prevent them from serving, a federal judge ordered the Department of Defense to halt the pending discharge proceedings against two HIV-positive members of the U.S. Air Force. Last year, two airmen living with HIV sued after they were discharged because of their condition. They provided medical evidence to show that they were asymptomatic and physically fit to deploy. The federal judge’s ruling allows the two airmen who sued to remain in their posts pending trial. Without intervention, both would have been terminated in the next few weeks. For more information, READ → https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/federal-judge-temporarily-blocks-military-from-forcing-out-hiv-positive-airmen/2019/02/15/5e40b1a2-313c-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.86b3068aac4a

 

HHS Requests Community Feedback on National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP)

Both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP) expire in 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), in collaboration with federal partners, is leading development of the next iterations of these two separate and distinct national strategies. To help inform the next iterations of the NHAS and NVHAP, HHS seeks input from external stakeholders for improving efficiency, effectiveness, coordination, and accountability of HIV and viral hepatitis prevention, care, treatment, and cure policies, services, and programs.

SAVE THE DATE for the In-Person Listening Session on Friday, February 22, 2019: 
In-person Listening Session at HHS from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (ET) in Room 800 of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20201. RSVP by Thursday, February 14 by sending your name, title, and organization to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.

SHARE YOUR COMMENTS IN WRITING no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on March 11, 2019:
 In addition, we will soon publish a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register to solicit written comments, recommendations, and ideas for updating both the NHAS and the NVHAP. As soon as the RFI is published, NMAC will provide a link to it as well as information about its deadline for input.

Electronic responses are strongly preferred and may be addressed to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.

Hardcopy written responses should be addressed to: 
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
Room L001 
330 C Street SW 
Washington, DC 20024
Attention HIV/Viral Hepatitis RFI

All the input gathered from the listening sessions and responses to the RFI will be shared with our federal partners, who collectively will use that information to update the vision, goals, and strategies for both plans, as well as each agency’s actions for implementing them.
For more information, READ https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/08/2019-01695/request-for-information-rfi-improving-efficiency-effectiveness-coordination-and-accountability-of

 

NIH Seeks Feedback from interested stakeholders on a review of the NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities and Guidelines for Determining AIDS Funding

The Office of AIDS Research (OAR) in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), Office of the Director (OD), National Institutes of Health (NIH) invites feedback from interested stakeholders on a review of the NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities and Guidelines for Determining AIDS Funding (NOT-OD-15-137) now entering year four of implementation. To ensure consideration, responses must be submitted by: April 13, 2019 11:59:59 PM EDT. For more information, READ https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/08/2019-01695/request-for-information-rfi-improving-efficiency-effectiveness-coordination-and-accountability-of

 

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ “Medicare-For-All” For Dummies

The “Medicare–for-all” debate is already in full swing, but what does that phrase even mean? Joanne Kenen of Politico, Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner for a beginner’s guide to the next big health policy debate. For “extra credit,” the panelists provide their favorite health policy stories of the week, and as a special Valentine’s Day bonus, their favorite #HealthPolicyValentines. For more information, LISTEN → https://khn.org/news/podcast-khns-what-the-health-medicare-for-all-for-dummies/

 

The Real Reasons Women of Color Lack Access to Health Care

The most prominent factors influencing why women of color are more severely affected with certain health issues is due to the lack of access to and understanding of health care resources. There are biases embedded in physicians and the health care system itself that directly affect care quality (according to Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe). The lack of information and resources is prevalent among women of color who need mental health. They have limited access to mental health resources and find little merit in seeking professional help. Due to their deep desire to seem strong, they perceive their struggles as a sign of weakness and wait too long before seeing a doctor. In dealing with these factors, women of color need to be empowered and educated about their options.For more information, READ → https://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/2002411/women-of-color-health-care/

 

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to protect federal funding for HIV prevention and care. Speak truth to power by sharing your personal stories with your elected officials. It is vitally important to meet to your federal elected officials when they are at home. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY20 government funding and the existence of the social safety net. And we  will start looking for increases to our existing programs.
  • NMAC is planning for the new year and meeting our new members of Congress. We are very excited to talk to the new House about our priorities.
  • NMAC is working in coalition to defend the right of people living with HIV to serve in the US military.

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Week ending: January 25, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose

HHS Requests Community Feedback on National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP)

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) will soon host two listening sessions to continue gathering public input for updates to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP). Both national plans currently expire in 2020.

Save the Dates for the In-Person Listening Session on Friday, February 22, 2019: 
In-person Listening Session at HHS from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (ET) in Room 800 of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20201. RSVP by Thursday, February 14 by sending your name, title, and organization to HepHIVStrategies@hhs.gov.

Share Your Comments in Writing

In addition, we will soon publish a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register to solicit written comments, recommendations, and ideas for updating both the NHAS and the NVHAP. As soon as the RFI is published, NMAC will provide a link to it as well as information about its deadline for input.

All the input gathered from the listening sessions and responses to the RFI will be shared with our federal partners, who collectively will use that information to update the vision, goals, and strategies for both plans, as well as each agency’s actions for implementing them.

Modeling Study Shows Two Common STDs Threaten Advances in HIV

Despite tremendous advancements that have been made toward the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the US, a modeling study recently published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Researchers reported that 10 percent of all new HIV cases among men-who-have-sex-with-men in the US are caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia infections. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the two most common reportable infections in the US. This model supports research showing these STDs increase the body’s risk to transmit and receive HIV. The increase of gonorrhea and chlamydia threatens the decrease of over 13 percent in new HIV cases over the last eight years – as the result of sustained federal investment in HIV prevention and the advent of biomedical advances like PrEP. For more information, READ → http://www.ncsddc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2019_Jones_Proportion_of_Incident_HIV_Cases_among_Men_Who.98127.pdf

Drug-Pricing Policies Find New Momentum As ‘A 2020 Thing’

Emboldened by midterm election results and interest in possible presidential runs, Democrats are advancing a slew of new and old legislative proposals. It’s not yet clear, though, which if any could go the distance. For more information, LISTEN → https://khn.org/news/drug-pricing-policies-find-new-momentum-as-a-2020-thing/

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ ‘Medicare-For-All’? More? Some?

“Medicare-for-all” has become the rallying cry for Democrats in the new Congress. But there is a long list of other ways to increase insurance coverage. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to chip away at the Medicaid program for the poor, and new rules could mean higher costs for individual health insurance in 2020. Alice Ollstein of Politico, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal and Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and, for “extra credit,” provide their favorite health policy stories of the week. For more information, LISTEN → https://khn.org/news/podcast-khns-what-the-health-medicare-for-all-more-some/

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to protect federal funding for HIV prevention and care. Speak truth to power by sharing your personal stories with your elected officials. It is vitally important to meet to your federal elected officials when they are at home. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY20 government funding and the existence of the social safety net. And we  will start looking for increases to our existing programs.
  • NMAC is planning for the new year and meeting our new members of Congress. We are very excited to talk to the new House about our priorities.
  • NMAC is working in coalition to defend the right of people living with HIV to serve in the US military.

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Week ending: January 11, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose

TAKE ACTION: Trump Administration Proposes Changes to Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit that Could Hurt PLWH

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed new rules that could have unprecedented access restrictions to lifesaving HIV drugs under Medicare Part D. If finalized, this rule would jeopardize our nation’s efforts to provide treatment to Medicare beneficiaries living with HIV, one of the largest providers of HIV care services. The new proposed rule would change the “protected class status” of anti-retrovirals under Medicare Part D, which allows PLWH to have direct access to the best treatments as prescribed by their doctor. Over the last 15 years, this policy has saved and improved millions of lives and brought us closer than ever to our shared goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. AIDS United has led the charge, providing a way to edit and submit your own comments, check out: https://www.aidsunited.org/Take-Action/My-Status-My-Medicare!.aspx. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. on January 25, 2019 in response to a rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For additional information about the proposed regulation, check out this webinar presented by the HIV Health Care Access Working Group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZy0yTaOZw&feature=youtu.be

READ: Report Impact of Trump Administration Judiciary on the LGBT Community

Lambda Legal issued a report entitled “The Promise of a Fair and Independent Judiciary is Under Siege.” This document examines the impact of the Trump Administration on the judiciary with an LGBT lens. The Trump Administration has worked tirelessly to confirm ideologically driven judges in order to further their ultraconservative policy objectives in the courts. To achieve this aim, the administration has worked closely in tandem with outgoing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and advisors from a powerful, but shrouded, network of right-wing organizations. For more information, READ https://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/trumps-judicial-assault-on-lgbt-rights

US Senator and US Representatives Introduce Legislation to Reduce Prescription Drug Plans

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Joe Neguse (D-Co.), and other cosponsors in the House and Senate held a press conference to announce a legislative package of three bills that would drastically reduce prescription drug prices in the United States. These bills seek to provide policy solutions to address particular challenges in the current health insurance market such as giving HHS the authority to invalidate manufacturers’ exclusivity rights if their prices are deemed excessively high; allowing HHS to negotiate prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D; and permitting Americans to buy drugs from other countries, like Canada. For more information, WATCH https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/video-audio/sanders-cummings-and-colleagues-announce-legislation-to-lower-drug-prices. For a good summary of how drug prices are set in the United States, LISTEN to a recent “Today, Explained” podcast regarding prescription drug prices: https://art19.com/shows/today-explained/episodes/cec4cf6e-55d0-4606-87ec-8ee2ad54b117

UPDATE: How the Government Shutdown Affects Health Programs

As the partial government shutdown stretches into unprecedented territory, several questions have been raised regarding the health and well-being of both the impacted government workers as well as the persons who benefit from government programs. For example, the USDA announced funding for SNAP (food stamps) will remain for February 2019 (for more information, READ https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/usda-to-fund-snap-for-february-2019-but-millions-face-cuts-if-shutdown) but it’s unclear what will happen after February if the government does not re-open. Similarly, health care benefits are not expected to be interrupted for those affected by the current partial federal government shutdown (for more information, READ https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/01/11/683770812/most-federal-workers-health-coverage-to-continue-during-shutdown-even-if-pay-sto). However, some people living with HIV have already begun encountering obstacles and financial impediments for accessing essential HIV treatment, including labs and prescription medications.

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to protect federal funding for HIV prevention and care. Speak truth to power by sharing your personal stories with your elected officials. It is vitally important to meet to your federal elected officials when they are at home. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY19 government funding and the existence of the social safety net.
  • NMAC is planning for the new year and meeting our new members of congress we are very excited to talk to the new House about our priors. We spent last Thursday stopping by members’ offices to welcome them to Hill.
  • NMAC is working in coalition to defend the right of people living with HIV to serve in the US military.

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Week ending: January 4, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose

NOTE: The new Congress has arrived in DC, with historic numbers of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. The 116th Congress began on January 3, 2019.

How The Government Shutdown Affects Health Programs

The partial federal government shutdown continues as Congress holds firm on its refusal to provide funding for the border wall. Medicare and Medicaid are fine, but the food safety component of the Food and Drug Administration and bio-threat surveillance done by the Department of Homeland Security are among the public health functions feeling the pinch. For more information, READ: https://khn.org/news/how-the-government-shutdown-affects-health-programs

Changes Proposed to Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit

On November 26, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule to add unprecedented access restrictions to lifesaving HIV drugs under Medicare Part D that, if finalized, will jeopardize our nation’s efforts to provide treatment to Medicare beneficiaries living with HIV. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. on January 25, 2019. For more Information:, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/30/2018-25945/modernizing-part-d-and-medicare-advantage-to-lower-drug-prices-and-reduce-out-of-pocket-expenses. Click here to go directly to the comment submission page.

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Plans Cover Doctors’ Visits, Hospital Care — And Now Your GED

Emilia Ford became pregnant at 15 and, after her daughter was born, dropped out of high school. As she held down different jobs during the past decade — including housekeeping and working in a relative’s retail store — she always thought about going for her GED to show she met high school academic skills. But the Brookhaven, Pa., woman needed assistance finding tutors and paying for the set of four tests, which cost $20 each. https://khn.org/news/medicaid-plans-cover-doctors-visits-hospital-care-and-now-your-ged/

Florida Rejects Ruling on HIV-AIDS Care Contracts

Outgoing Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has rejected an administrative law judge’s recommendation that the state should rebid Medicaid managed-care contracts in Southeast Florida for the treatment of people with HIV and AIDS. Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior late last month issued a final order in a long-running dispute between the state and Positive Healthcare, a division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Positive Healthcare filed a legal challenge after the agency awarded Medicaid contracts to a competitor, Simply Healthcare Plans. Administrative Law Judge John Newton issued a recommended order in favor of Positive Healthcare, but, under state administrative law, the issue had to go back to the Agency for Health Administration for a final order. For more information, READ → https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-nsf-medicaid-contracts-hiv-aids-20190104-story.html

They tested positive for HIV. Then the military kicked them out.

Testing positive for HIV was difficult enough. Getting forced out of the military by the Air Force because of the diagnosis proved even harder.So say two U.S. airmen who filed suit on Wednesday against Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, arguing that the Pentagon’s decision last month to discharge them from the military owing to their HIV status violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause and federal law. Read_→https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/they-tested-positive-for-hiv-then-the-military-kicked-them-out/

What You Can Do

TAKE ACTION: It is very important that our elected officials hear from us to protect federal funding for HIV prevention and care. Speak truth to power by sharing your personal stories with your elected officials. It is vitally important to meet to your federal elected officials when they are at home. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will?  Our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives need to hear from you.

What NMAC is Doing About It

  • NMAC remains vigilant in its advocacy to protect FY19 government funding and the existence of the social safety net.
  • NMAC is planning for the new year and meeting our new members of Congress. We are very excited to talk to the new House about our priorities. We spent last Thursday stopping by members offices to welcome them to the Hill.
  • NMAC is working in coalition to defend the right of people living with HIV to serve in the US military.

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Important Happenings in HIV/Health Policy

Year ending: December 18, 2018
By: Sable K. Nelson & Matthew Rose

Another year in the books and the norm continues of some hot HIV takes in this last month of the year. NMAC wants to give you the highlights of what is happening at this time of year. While this will not be an exhaustive list, it will be a marking of things that we are actively working on at the end of this year. We’ll be back into the new year with highlights and actions to take in the political arena. If you have any questions, do feel free to email us.

Ending the Epidemic

For the first time since the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in 2010, the domestic HIV community has come together to call on the U.S. government to declare an official goal of ending the domestic HIV epidemic by 2025 and urging it to enact legislative and regulatory policies and sufficient appropriations to achieve this goal. The Act Now: End AIDS coalition, with a process managed by AIDS United, solicited input from the larger HIV, public health, and reproductive health communities to develop the policy paper, titled Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States: A Roadmap for Federal Action. To date, 300 HIV and community organizations from across the U.S. have provided their endorsement.

PEPFAR

Once again PEPFAR has been reauthorized with strong bipartisan support. For 15 years, PEPFAR helped to share critical resources to help fight the HIV epidemic aboard. In the areas of HIV prevention, treatment, and care, some of the world’s most vulnerable populations have benefited from this program, saving more than 17 million lives. PEPFAR has continued to support a rapid acceleration of HIV prevention by using data to increase program performance, mobilize domestic resources, and support local partners for sustainable implementation.
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2018/12/12/18136716/pepfar-hiv-aids-trump-congress

Announcements from the Secretary

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar assured the HIV community on Tuesday that new proposals around Medicare Part D would not cut off critical access to lifesaving medications. The administration had proposed some changes to programs that could significantly hinder access for those living with HIV. In a speech at the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment in Maryland, Azar said the administration’s recent proposal to allow Medicare Part D plans to negotiate better prices for drugs in “protected class” would not limit access to antiretrovirals used to treat HIV. Public comment about this proposed rule is due at the end of next Monday. Furthermore, the Secretary also announced two co-chairs for the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS: Carl Schmid and John Wiesman. Schmid serves as deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute. Wiesman is Secretary of Health for Washington state.
https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/regulatory/azar-assures-hiv-patients-protected-class-proposal-won-t-cut-off-access-to-drugs

Administration threats future of HIV research

On December 5, 2018, the Washington Post broke a story about the Trump administration — by and through the Department of Health and Human Services — potentially curtailing an HIV research contract after pressure from anti-abortion activists because the project relies on fetal tissue to generate mice with humanized immune systems, an important animal model for HIV research. Other similar research is also likely to come under threat. (WaPo story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-threatens-future-of-hiv-research-hub/2018/12/04/f2e8e0ec-f7dd-11e8-863c-9e2f864d47e7_story.html?utm_term=.7d9094e88286)