View From Washington

Utilizing the AMCHP Annual Conference to Advance Title V Funding

By Brent Ewig, MHS
Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP   

As reported, President Obama’s FY 2011 budget released February 1 includes an $11 million proposed increase for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant. Release of the President’s proposed budget marks the beginning of the FY 2011 Appropriations process. The action now moves to Capitol Hill where members of Congress will use this proposal as a blueprint. They need to hear from you during the AMCHP Annual Conference about why this increase is essential to include and build upon in their FY 2011 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill.

Please see AMCHP’s recent Legislative Alert about setting up meetings with your elected officials during the AMCHP Annual Conference, and other ways you can weigh in to support MCH funding. As a reminder, we will be hosting Title V Advocacy Training Call on Wednesday, February 24 at 3 p.m. (EDT) for all AMCHP members and friends. Register for the general Advocacy Training Call here. Finally, we will conduct an on-site Legislative Briefing at the Annual Conference on Tuesday, March 9 to provide the latest lay of the land and answer any questions you may have prior to your Hill visits. Please contact Joshua Brown or call (202) 775-0436 for questions on AMCHP’s appropriations work. 

AMCHP Supports Launch of First Lady's Initiative on Childhood Obesity

On Friday, February 5, AMCHP was invited to a meeting at the White House to begin a partnership in support of First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative addressing childhood obesity. Michelle Alletto and Brent Ewig from AMCHP's policy team had the opportunity to meet with Susan Sher, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Tina Chen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. We learned that Mrs. Obama was scheduled to make an initial announcement launching the initiative on February 9. She focuses on four initial areas. These include providing parents with information to support healthy eating and active living; increasing access to nutritious food in schools; promoting more opportunities for kids to be physically active; and providing more communities with access to affordable, healthful food.  

While the initiative has been officially launched, the White House indicated this is the beginning of an ongoing process in which they will continue to seek feedback and suggestions. They described the effort as a public-private partnership that seeks to engage all relevant sectors of society. We got the strong sense that Mrs. Obama's advisors have a good grasp of the complexities of the issue and understanding of the need to link health education to policy and environmental change. AMCHP's initial suggestions focused on the opportunities to build on the capacity of state and local public health agencies; expanding the focus on schools to include child care settings; adapting different strategies for children with special health care needs; linking expectations and benchmarks to adequate funding and resources; framing actions to support a lifecourse approach; and involving parents and youth in all phases. On this last point, we also got a strong sense that the White House is keenly aware of the importance of utilizing carefully crafted messages and is taking into account special concerns that support rather than undermine girls' perceptions about body image and healthy weight.  

AMCHP will share more details as they emerge and continue to advocate for linking this initiative to state MCH and other public health programs. The White House also continues to seek examples of promising practices and success stories, so please continue to pass along anything you would like us to share to Michelle Alletto.