The Academy is fortunate to be able to support at least five pieces of federal legislation that would augment the government’s financial investments and institute much needed policy improvements in the HIV space. The Academy is actively working to ensure that these bills will be introduced in and passed by both chambers of the U.S. Congress and be sent to the President’s desk for signature. These bills include:
1. The HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act (H.R. 2295). This bill, originally introduced by Rep. John Lewis, was reintroduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) after Lewis’ untimely passing. The HELP Act would provide up to $250,000 in student loan repayment for up to 5 years of service to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists and pharmacists who treat or provide oral health care to people with HIV in a health professionals shortage area or at a clinical site funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.
2. The Bolstering Infectious Outbreak (BIO) Preparedness Workforce Act (H.R. 5602/S.3244). This bill, introduced in the House by Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) and David McKinley (R-WV-01), and in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), will help to build the next generation of infectious diseases experts who will prepare for and respond to emerging health threats. The bill, which expands upon the HELP Act, would provide loan repayment to certain physicians, pharmacists, advanced practice providers, laboratory professionals, infection preventionists and dentists and would help to address the critical workforce shortage in HIV clinical care for providers who practice in designated areas. This bill was part of a House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee hearing on “Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers.”
3. The Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act (H.R. 1305). This bill serves to modernize laws/policies and eliminate discrimination with respect to people with HIV/AIDS. It calls upon various federal agencies to initiate a national review of federal (including military) and state laws, policies, regulations, and judicial precedents and decisions regarding criminal and related civil commitment cases. This investigation would be followed by several interventions aimed at eliminating any of those discriminatory policies.
4. The PrEP Assistance Program Act (H.R. 1643). Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), joined by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17) reintroduced this bill to make the preventative PrEP more affordable and accessible to underserved and high-risk populations. Although PrEP has been available for several years, many Americans lack access to and awareness of the medication. The PrEP access gap is especially prevalent in Black and Latinx communities, who also suffer from disproportionately high rates of HIV. The bill would provide grants to cover medication costs, clinic and testing fees, physician visits and community outreach programs. This latest version of the bill expands the amount of grant funding that would be available from $50 million to $400 million. It also ensures that both medication and ancillary services are covered.
5. The PrEP Access and Affordability Act. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28) introduced this bill to expand access to lifesaving HIV prevention medications and address the underutilization of HIV prevention drugs (both PrEP and PEP) in high-risk communities by ensuring these medications and any associated costs are covered by health insurance. The measure also establishes community public health campaigns, and it expands access to the drugs for uninsured individuals and underserved communities. The bill also prohibits denying, limiting, or qualifying coverage or increasing premiums for disability insurance, long-term care insurance or life insurance policies based on a person taking medication for HIV prevention.
We expect there to be other pieces of legislation and resolutions to help end the HIV epidemic. We will continue to keep our members informed of all such efforts, as well as legislative trends we’re seeing in the states.
View the latest Policy Update here.