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Action Alert
(posted July 9, 2010)

Take Action

The House of Representatives is about to decide the funding amount for viral hepatitis prevention Do not miss this opportunity to tell your Representative to support an increase of up to $50 million for viral hepatitis prevention in FY2011.

YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE NOW”

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies is about to decide the funding amount for viral hepatitis prevention for the Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Fiscal Year 2011.

On July 14th, the House of Representatives will begin to mark up the FY2011 Labor-HHS-Education bill which includes funding for viral hepatitis prevention.  Given a highly partisan Congress, the economy and the President’s discretionary funding freeze, we are hearing that Appropriators have been told to cut funding across the HHS agencies. The President’s FY2011 Budget proposed the slightest funding increase of $1.8 million to DVH as part of a broader $26 million initiative at the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention directed towards gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender Americans at risk for HIV. While we support this increased funding and appreciate the need for these prevention programs, it does not support core prevention funding such as hepatitis B and C counseling, testing, and referral, in addition to delivering hepatitis A and B vaccine, and establishing a national surveillance system of chronic hepatitis B and C. HAP and coalition partners will continue to work with Appropriators to include broader prevention priorities in report language.

The greatest opportunity we have to fund hepatitis prevention services is in newly authorized money within health reform’s Prevention and Public Health Fund.  We believe it will be an enormous missed opportunity to overlook one of the most underfunded chronic, infectious diseases that continues to take a heavy toll on the individuals infected and contribute to greater health system costs. Hepatitis services have historically been and continue to be critically underfunded and despite the new evidence-based Institute of Medicine recommendations, hepatitis received none of the $650 million in prevention and wellness funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act nor any of the FY2010 $500 million authorized under the Prevention and Public Health Fund.  

Congressional staff have told us that any increase hinges upon Members of Congress hearing now directly from state and local constituents on why increased funding is needed. Please continue to help us fight for increased viral hepatitis prevention funding by contacting your Representative about the tremendous need in your area of the country.  Please take a few minutes to make these important phone calls!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

It is urgent that your calls be made immediately. Please call your Representative’s Washington, DC office.  Ask to speak to the staff person who handles healthcare issues. Whether you speak to this person directly or leave a message, tell them:

“My name is                         and I’m a constituent of Representative                          .  I am calling to urge your office to weigh in with Chairman Obey of the Subcommittee on Labor- HHS-Education to support increased funding for CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis for a total of $50 million.  I urge you to invest in hepatitis prevention by leveraging funds from health reform. Hepatitis B and C affects over 5 million Americans.  Chronic viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer, one of the top 10 killers of Americans every year, and the leading cause of liver transplants each year. Congress has historically cut or flat funded the Division of Viral Hepatitis.  Money for prevention of hepatitis B and C is critical to increase counseling, testing and referral in order to begin to get a handle on this potentially life-threatening and expensive, chronic disease.”

You can call your Representative at 202.225.3121. You will get the Capitol switchboard. Ask to be connected to your Representative’s office.

Thanks for taking the time to make these important phone calls!

Background
The Division of Viral Hepatitis received $19.3 million in FY2010.  With this level of funding, DVH can only support states and cities with an average federal funding award of $90,000.  This is only enough for a staff position of the Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator (AVHPC) and not for the provision of core prevention services.  An estimated 65-75% of infected Americans do not know their status, compared with 20-30% who do not know their HIV status. Compared to prevention funding for HIV at $728 million, STD at $154 million and TB at $144 million, viral hepatitis is the most underfunded and defunded disease, representing less than 2 percent of the budget of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Prevention.

Policymakers must be made aware of the consequences of continued inaction. The costs to the healthcare system generated by advanced liver disease associated with chronic hepatitis C infection will increase from $30 billion to $85 billion per year.  Medicare will be especially hard hit because two-thirds of Americans with chronic hepatitis C infection are baby boomers and the vast majority (75 percent) is unaware; these patients will soon age into Medicare and are likely to progress to advanced liver disease unless they are identified, evaluated and treated soon.  In addition to causing 15,000 deaths each year, hepatitis will continue to be the most common cause of non-AIDS-related death in co-infected Americans with HIV with as many as 25percent co-infected with hepatitis C and 10 percent with hepatitis B. Acute hepatitis B will continue to disproportionately impact African Americans, particularly in the southern states, and chronic hepatitis B among Asian Americans where it is the leading cause of death and 10 percent remain infected. Even with a safe and effective vaccine against hepatitis B, 3,000 Americans will continue to die and roughly 1,000 babies will still be infected at birth.

The following Representatives are of great importance at this juncture since they are all Appropriators. If you live in any of these jurisdictions, it is of the utmost importance that you contact your Representative as his or her constituent to weigh in on increased funds for viral hepatitis prevention:

 

Alabama
Jo Bonner (R)
Robert Aderholt (R)

Arkansas
Marion Berry (D)

Arizona
Ed Pastor (D)

California
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)
Barbara Lee (D)
Michael Honda (D)
Sam Farr (D)
Adam Schiff (D)
Ken Calvert (R)
Jerry Lewis (R) (Ranking Member on full Appropriations committee)

Colorado
John Salazar (D)

Connecticut
Rosa Delauro (D)

Florida
Allen Boyd (D)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)
Bill Young (R)
Ander Crenshaw (R)

Georgia
Sanford Bishop (D)
Jack Kingston (R)

Idaho
Michael Simpson (R)

Illinois
Jesse Jackson Jr. (D)
Mark Kirk (R)

Indiana
Pete Visclosky (D)

Iowa
Tom Latham (R)

Kansas
Todd Tiahrt (R) (Ranking Member on Labor-HHS Subcommittee)

Kentucky
Ben Chandler (D)
Harold Rogers (R)

Louisiana
Rodney Alexander (R)

Maryland
Dutch Ruppersberger (D)

Massachusetts
John Olver (D)

Michigan
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D)

Minnesota
Betty McCollum (D)

Missouri
Jo Ann Emerson (R)

Montana
Dennis Rehberg (R)

North Carolina
David Price (D)

New Jersey
Steve Rothman (D)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)

New York
Nita Lowey (D)
José Serrano  (D)
Maurice Hinchey (D)
Steve Israel (D)

Ohio
Tim Ryan (D)
Marcy Kaptur (D)
Steve LaTourette (R)                     

Oklahoma
Tom Cole (R)                      

Pennsylvania
Chaka Fattah (D)
Patrick Murphy (D)

Rhode Island
Patrick Kennedy (D)

Tennessee
Lincoln Davis (D)

Texas
Chet Edwards (D)
Ciro Rodriguez (D)
Kay Granger (R)
John Culberson (R)
John Carter (R)

Virginia
Frank Wolf (R)

Washington
Norman Dicks (D)

West Virginia
Alan Mollohan (D)

Wisconsin
David Obey (D) (Chair of full Appropriations committee and Labor-HHS subcommittee)

 

The Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership (HAP) is a national coalition based in Washington, DC and includes community-based organizations, public health and provider associations, national hepatitis and HIV organizations, and diagnostic, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies from all over the country. HAP works with policy makers and public health officials to increase federal support for hepatitis prevention, testing, education, research and treatment. Please contact Colin Schwartz at 202.434.8005 or cschwartz@NASTAD.org if you have any questions or need additional information.


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