Weekly Wire: February 1, 2018

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Federal News

HHS Secretary Appointed, from Senate

Alex Azar has been confirmed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Azar was confirmed on Wednesday, January 24, and sworn in on Monday, January 30. Azar will replace former HHS Secretary Tom Price who resigned in September. Azar has served as the president of Lilly USA LLC for the past five years. Previously, he was General Counsel, then Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. During testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he addressed rising drug prices in the US, the fate of Obama-era health policies, and the need to tackle the opioid epidemic.

Proposed Rule on Association Health Plans, from DOL

In response to an executive order from the President, the U.S. Department of Labor has published a proposed rule to broaden the criteria for determining when employers may join together in an employer group or association that is treated as the "employer" sponsor of a single multiple-employer "employee welfare benefit plan" and "group health plan." The goal of the rulemaking is to expand access to affordable health coverage, especially among small employers and self-employed individuals, by removing restrictions on the establishment and maintenance of association health plans. Public comments on the proposed rule may be submitted through Tuesday, March 6. Partner highlights included:

Study on HIV Treatment for Pregnant Women Announced, from NIH

The National Institutes of Health have announced the launch of an international study to compare the safety and efficacy of three antiretroviral treatment regimens for pregnant women living with HIV and the safety of these regimens for their infants. Clinical trial sites for the study have opened in the U.S. and Zimbabwe, with future sites to open in nine additional countries. The study will evaluate both the current preferred regimen for pregnant women recommended by the World Health Organization and two regimens containing antiretroviral drugs that are becoming more widely used. It will provide data on the use of these newer drugs during pregnancy, with the aim to help ensure that women living with HIV, and their infants receive the best available treatments. One of the studies will include counseling on infant feeding options. 

Pediatric Issues in Disasters Webinar, from ASPR

Join the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response on Tuesday, February 13, from 1-2:30 p.m. ET for a webinar on pediatric issues in disasters. Pediatric professionals at federal, state, regional, and local levels will speak on incorporating pediatric issues in health care preparedness plans and trainings. The presentation will include tangible examples and best practices, with a focus on how to implement the lessons learned across the country.

Contributions to Women's Health in 2017, from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Agencies for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have updated their webpage that collates publications that have contributed to women's health. Breastfeeding highlights from 2017 include: "Racial and Geographic Differences in Breastfeeding – United States, 2011-2015;" "Breastfeeding Among African-American Women;" and "Trends in Breastfeeding Among Infants Enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – New York, 2002-2015."

Partner News

25th Anniversary of the FMLA, from NPWF/FAMILY Act Coalition

Monday, February 5 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the only national law that guarantees some working people time away from work when they have a new child, face a serious health condition or need to care for a seriously ill family member. The National Partnership for Women & Families has launched the FMLA25 toolkit and social media toolkit to help advocates make the case for a strong national paid family and medical leave law on and around February 5 and throughout the anniversary year. Individuals and organizations are invited to join the NPWF Thunderclap that highlights #FMLA25 and the need for paid family leave in the U.S, record their stories on the FAMILY Act Coalition's "Support Paid Leave" video wall, and join a coalition tweet storm on Monday February 5, from 1–2 p.m. ET using hashtags #FMLA25 and #PaidLeaveMeansIn addition, NPWF has launched a new interactive webiate featuring a state-by-state analysis of the importance of paid leave for each state and the District of Columbia. 

News from the Field

Native Public Health Award Nominations Open, from NIHB

The National Indian Health Board has released a call for nominations for the Native Public Health Innovation Award. Nominations can be for a Tribe, individual, organization, or program that has worked to improve health status, address long-standing health disparities, and increase the visibility of American Indian or Alaska Native public health concerns. Nominations must be submitted by Tuesday, February 20.

Brief on Medicaid Issue Areas in 2018, from KFF

The Kaiser Family Foundation has published an issue brief titled "Medicaid: What to Watch in 2018 from the Administration, Congress, and the States." The brief explains four areas of concentration around Medicaid in 2018 and what to look out for this year. Issue areas include state action on Medicaid expansion and funding for the Children's Insurance Health Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers (CHC).

State and Community News

Report on Labor Law Awareness Among Low-Income Workers, from New York City

The Community Service Society has published a report titled "Expanding Workers' Rights: What it means for New York City's Low-Income Workers." The report examines public awareness of three of the new labor laws: paid sick time law in New York City, and minimum wage increases and paid family leave at the state level, and offers ideas for informing hard-to-reach workers of their new rights.

Collective Impact Connection

Presentation of In-Progress Research on Improving Capacity of Local Health Networks, from Systems for Action

Join Systems for Action on Wednesday, February 8, for a research in progress webinar titled, "Strengthening the Carrying Capacity of Local Health and Social Service Networks." The webinar will feature an upcoming case study of health service centers in Florida and Texas to develop and implement an approach for assessing the capacity of community social services organizations and their partners to absorb and meet the needs of new clients. Findings will lead to improvements in the understanding of the nonprofit sector's ability to respond to growing demand, ultimately contributing to the long-term goal of strengthening cross-sector partnerships and integration of services and systems to improve health outcomes.

News & Views

Glamour: "What Maternity Leave Looks Like When You're a Sitting Senator

NICHQ Blog: "Cultural Sensitivity for Better Breastfeeding Outcomes

The Spokesman-Review: "Lawmaker: Time for Idaho to recognize breastfeeding is not indecent"

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