I know you said that you didn't want to hear that there are better ways to render, but that's really not going to get you the best quality final product. However, if you need to be able to export h.264 directly from After Effects, you can re-enable it by setting the preference Show Deprecated Formats In Output Module Settings in the Output preferences category.
I really apprecaite your feedback , but as I tried to explain in my original post, the solution you provided isn't addressing the problem I'm having.
The issue is not with seeing the H.264 option in the format tab. I can see the H.264 option there. The problem is that the H.264 option is no longer available in the "format options" tab as a codec option for Quicktime. It was an option for the past 2 months, but I log on today and it's no longer there.
Did you update QuickTime or your operating system? After Effects merely shows the codecs that are exposed by the QuickTime system.