Shortly after the US elections in November I posted to MyIDSA my thoughts on what lies ahead for the future of healthcare broadly and ID specifically. Then, as now, we are in many ways limited to speculation. But, we do know that remaining true to our strategic priorities and advocating for a strong ID workforce, a sound public health system, robust funding for global and domestic research, and continuing the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a non-partisan pursuit—these are priorities we have to pursue no matter the political party in power. We also know that many of the issues that concern us will be unfamiliar to those new to Washington, and we must focus our efforts on helping them understand their importance. IDSA and HIVMA are hard at work promoting our societies’ priorities with the new Administration and Congress, including:
Reaching out to the Trump transition team and new White House health policy advisor, Katy Talento (who has a background in infectious diseases and epidemiology);
Working with IDSA members in key states to urge Senators to ask HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price about his positions on ID priorities (as a result, Price was asked about his support for antibiotic research and development and for increased NIH funding);
Leading our Stakeholder Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance (S-FAR) to urge the President-elect to prioritize AMR;
Preparing our response to proposed significant cuts to federal funding of a wide variety of programs relevant to IDSA and HIVMA priorities;
Emphasizing the overwhelming science demonstrating the safety and benefit of routine childhood immunizations in response to reports that Trump was considering creating a vaccine commission to be chaired by known vaccine critic Robert Kennedy, Jr.
HIVMA leaders have also written the President-elect and will write to Ms. Talento to ensure that we do not lose ground in our response to the HIV pandemic. Specifically, that includes full implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy; robust funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; sustaining and expanding access to affordable health insurance; programs and incentives to support the HIV and ID medical workforce; robust funding for HIV research; a strengthened commitment to ending the global AIDS pandemic; and a comprehensive, evidence-based response to the opioid epidemic.
HIVMA organized a petition endorsed by more than 1,000 HIV medical professionals urging Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without simultaneously having an equivalent replacement plan. While not perfect, the ACA has dramatically reduced the uninsured rates in many HIV clinics and provided access to health insurance coverage and non-HIV care and treatment to many patients for the first time. Two examples shared by HIVMA members illustrate why this issue is so important to our patients:
At the Bluegrass Clinic in Lexington, the uninsured rate dropped from 42 percent to 7 percent when ACA came online in Kentucky. With expanded healthcare coverage, the clinic has seen an uptick in patients accessing primary care, including for vaccinations and HIV testing, and in the number of referrals they receive for HIV care.
At the John T. Carey Special Immunology Unit of University Hospitals of Cleveland, with implementation of the ACA, the uninsured rate in the HIV clinic dropped from nearly one-third to 7 percent.
Check the IDSA website periodically to learn updates in our efforts to work with the new administration and Congress.
Also, please remember to share your thoughts and views with IDSA leadership and your fellow members on MyIDSA. We are a membership of over 10,000 and we are certain to have differing political views and opinions on how to address issues facing our nation, but we stand together in our view that one thing the nation cannot do without is a strong ID workforce. Meeting the strategic goals of the Society will require member engagement at every level. Learn about how you can get involved.