Looking Back, Looking Forward
By Brent Ewig, MHS
Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP
It's time for the annual MCH policy round up – what went well last year, what's left undone and where do we go from here. From the AMCHP perspective, one of the key highlights came at the end of last year in mid-December when Congress passed a final FY 2015 spending package that included a $3 million increase for the Title V MCH Services Block Grant. The bill provides funding through Sept. 30, 2015.
This small increase is a positive step in an austere environment. It increased the MCH Block Grant from $634 million to $637 million. In a bill that provided largely flat funding for most domestic programs, this small increase is welcome news and further evidence that your voice advocating for MCH populations is being heard.
In August, Congress reauthorized the re-named Autism Cares Act, and in December also passed a reauthorization of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, which were both a priorities on the AMCHP 2014 Policy Agenda.
Another major victory occurred last March when Congress included a full year of funding and extended authorization of the MIECHV program, along with PREP and the Family to Family Health Information Centers. Funding for MIECHV expires March 31, 2015 and funding for PREP and Family to Family Health Information Centers expires Sept. 30, 2015. AMCHP is now actively advocating for Congress to again reauthorize these three expiring sections of the Title V statute. Next steps in this work include building on bi-partisan momentum, building a stronger case with available data, and cultivating additional champions.
In addition, AMCHP is actively advocating for continued funding for the CHIP program, which runs out in September 2015.
Looking ahead, we expect that our focus to be on continued budget battles, program reauthorizations and looming sequestration – as well as tracking a number of bills being introduced and voted on that would make significant changes to the ACA.
To guide our work in the coming year, the AMCHP board recently adopted the 2015 AMCHP Policy Agenda which articulates our priorities and is available here.