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Hep Express Issue

ABBREVIATIONS: ACIP, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; DVH, Division of Viral Hepatitis; HAV, hepatitis A virus; HBV, hepatitis B virus; HCV, hepatitis C virus; IAC, Immunization Action Coalition; IDU, injection drug user; MMWR, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; MSM, men who have sex with men; STD, sexually transmitted disease; VIS, Vaccine Information Statement; WHO, World Health Organization.
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October 20, 2005
ENCOURAGE CONGRESS TO FUND VIRAL HEPATITIS PROGRAMS BEFORE OCTOBER 26

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) provides regular updates on legislative and policy issues that affect viral hepatitis programs. The following is reprinted in its entirety from NASTAD's October 12, 2005, Viral Hepatitis Policy Update. The update summarizes the status of federal funding for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, and offers a way for organizations to encourage Congress to support viral hepatitis funding.

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FY2006 Viral Hepatitis Funding
The first day of the 2006 federal fiscal year began on October 1, 2005, with Congress having passed only two of the eleven appropriations bills which provide funding for the federal government's discretionary programs, including viral hepatitis. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (HJRes68) to keep the federal government operating through November 18 by providing funding to federal programs at their FY2005 level, the FY2006 level set in the House-passed bill, or the FY2006 level set in the Senate-passed bill, whichever is lowest. The unique funding structure of the CR will result in either freezes or cuts to most government accounts.

Congress is currently occupied by the appointment of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court and with Hurricane Katrina relief, and is unlikely to address the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Appropriations (Labor-HHS) bill, which includes funding for viral hepatitis programs, in the near term. The Labor-HHS bill is likely to be included in an omnibus bill to ensure its passage. An omnibus bill rolls a number of unfinished bills into one bill, and Congress votes to approve the bill in its entirety to ease passage. Over the past several years the Labor-HHS bill has been included in an omnibus bill, which after Congressional passage has been followed by a rescission, an across the board cut to all of the programs funded in the bill. These rescissions have whittled away hundreds of thousands of dollars in viral hepatitis funding. It is virtually certain that a rescission will follow the FY2006 omnibus bill, and it may be as high as 1-2 percent to find offsets for Katrina relief.

FY2007 Viral Hepatitis Funding
Although the FY2006 funding process is not yet complete, the process to determine FY2007 funding amounts for federal discretionary programs has already begun. The President presents his federal budget to Congress on the first Tuesday in February, and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is now busy preparing the budget. This is the time to weigh in with OMB about viral hepatitis needs. The Hepatitis C Appropriations Partnership (HCAP), a coalition of hepatitis C patient advocates, community groups, public health and provider associations, national organizations, and pharmaceutical companies, has drafted a letter to OMB outlining the needs of viral hepatitis and requesting specific funding for FY2007. We encourage all organizations to sign onto this letter by sending your organization's name, city, and state to tmoore@nastad.org at NASTAD by October 26, An organizational sign on letter such as this one is important to help articulate to the Administration the vast support for viral hepatitis programs across the country.

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To read the letter to support funding for viral hepatitis prevention, go to: http://www.nastad.org/documents/public/publicpolicy/OMB_letter-Final-tm.doc If you have questions about this or would like to sign the letter, contact Terrence Moore at NASTAD at tmoore@nastad.org
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(2 of 2)
October 20, 2005
VIRAL HEPATITIS GRASSROOTS TRAINING AND HILL EDUCATION DAY TO TAKE PLACE BEFORE CDC'S NATIONAL HEPATITIS CONFERENCE

In an effort to demonstrate to Congress the impact of viral hepatitis on Americans, the Hepatitis C Appropriations Partnership, the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council, and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable have joined together to sponsor the first national Viral Hepatitis Grassroots Training and Hill Education Day, scheduled for Monday, December 5, in Washington, DC. This free training will prepare patients, providers, community advocates, and others concerned about viral hepatitis to meet with their Congressional representatives to help raise awareness about the need for viral hepatitis education, programs, and funding. In the ongoing effort to educate members of Congress about the devastating impact of these diseases, nothing is more powerful than a visit by a constituent, which gives a human face to these diseases.

We invite all who are interested to register for this training, which will precede the National Viral Hepatitis Prevention Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and scheduled for December 5-9 in Washington, DC. The training organizers are also seeking funding to support scholarships for those who cannot afford to travel to Washington, DC.

If you have any questions about the Viral Hepatitis Grassroots Training and Hill Education Day, please contact Laurie Schowalter at lschowalter@nastad.org

Information about CDC's National Viral Hepatitis Prevention Conference can be found at http://www.nvhpc.com


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