Skip Navigation Links
Skip Navigation Links
January 2021Expand January 2021
November 2020Expand November 2020
July/August 2020Expand July/August 2020
May/June 2020Expand May/June 2020
March/April 2020Expand March/April 2020
January/February 2020Expand January/February 2020
September/October 2019Expand September/October 2019
July/August 2019Expand July/August 2019
May/June 2019Expand May/June 2019
March/April 2019Expand March/April 2019
January/February 2019Expand January/February 2019
November/December 2018Expand November/December 2018
September/October 2018Expand September/October 2018
July/August 2018Expand July/August 2018
May/June 2018Expand May/June 2018
March/April 2018Expand March/April 2018
January/February 2018Expand January/February 2018
November/December 2017Expand November/December 2017
September/October 2017Expand September/October 2017
July/August 2017Expand July/August 2017
May/June 2017Expand May/June 2017
March/April 2017Expand March/April 2017
January/February 2017Expand January/February 2017
November/December 2016Expand November/December 2016
September/October 2016Expand September/October 2016
July/August 2016Expand July/August 2016
May/June 2016Expand May/June 2016
March/April 2016Expand March/April 2016
January/February 2016Expand January/February 2016
November/December 2015Expand November/December 2015
September/October 2015Expand September/October 2015
July/August 2015Expand July/August 2015
May/June 2015Expand May/June 2015
March/April 2015Expand March/April 2015
January/February 2015Expand January/February 2015
ArchiveExpand Archive
Special Edition - EPRExpand Special Edition - EPR
Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance MeetingExpand Special Edition: Title V Technical Assistance Meeting
Title V Technical Assistance Meeting

 A View From Washington

Where Do We Go From Here? Magic Eight Ball Says "Reply Hazy, Try Again"

Brent EwigBy Brent Ewig
Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

Do you remember the famous Magic Eight Ball toy which allows you to ask a question, shake the ball and then flip the window to the top where an answer is revealed? Well, if you had asked the magic ball anytime over the past seven years if the Republican Party was united in its intention to repeal and replace Obamacare, the answer would have been, "Without a doubt."

But despite unified control of both the legislative and executive branches, the Republican party began to show some fissures through the process of drafting legislation and finalizing important details. Over the past few weeks, the Eight Ball started to generate a different answer on whether the crafting of replacement legislation could continue that unity: "Concentrate and ask again." This in some sense is a variation of President Trump's announcement after discussing health policy with our nation's governors: "I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject."

Sure enough, in the run-up to the planned March 23 vote on the House American Health Care Act, the ball's response to every question about the bill's fate was, "Cannot predict now." In the end, when the speaker of the House and the president made a last scramble to find enough votes for passage, the response became a rather curt, "Don't count on it." And so, without a majority, the bill was pulled from consideration on March 24.

eight.jpgWhere do we go from here? While the Eight Ball analogy provides perhaps some badly needed comic relief, we all recognize the human lives and livelihoods at stake in this debate. With so many families struggling to find and keep affordable care, the uncertainty about the fate of our national health policy over the past few years can't help but increase anxiety. It's telling that our policy session at AMCHP 2017 was entitled, MCH Policy in an Uncertain Environment. The future of federal health care law and funding was a big part of the discussion.

Because we are a national nonpartisan organization representing MCH leaders in states across the political spectrum, we've had to navigate a careful approach to this ongoing debate while remaining true to our mission to advocate for the needs of women, children and families. While the recent failure of repeal-and-replace legislation adds to uncertainty, it also opens the slight but distinct possibility leaders from both sides of the aisle will soon realize that no major legislation can proceed without bipartisan support.

Part of AMCHP's job is to help our members understand how what happens (or doesn't happen) in Washington impacts their ability to carry our programs and policies at the state and local levels that improve maternal and child health status. Will the recent failure of repeal-and-replace legislation make that job harder or easier in the months to come? The Magic Eight Ball says, "Reply hazy, try again."