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Heeding Lessons Learned from the Zika Response as We Prepare for Emerging Threats and Issues
From the President: Emerging Issues

 A View From Washington

Brent Ewig.jpg
By Brent Ewing, MHS
Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs Team; AMCHP

As we prepare this issue for press, we are on the verge of learning more about two critical MCH funding priorities: 1.)the Senate’s proposed funding level for the Title V MCH Block Grant and other important MCH priorities and 2.) the potential resolution of differences between the Senate’s $1.1 billion Zika emergency supplemental and the House’s $662 million counter offer.

We expect to get details soon for a FY 2017 Labor, HHS, Education and Other Related Agencies Bill. Recall that this is the committee that initially proposed a $25 million reduction to the Special Programs of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) component of the MCH Block Grant last year. AMCHP played a critical role in leading opposition to that cut, and we were very pleased when the final FY 2016 package not only rejected the proposed cut but instead included a small $1.2 million increase. [Editor’s note: the Senate Appropriations Committee just approved a proposed FY 2017 Appropriations Bill recommending a $3.5 million increase to the Title V MCH Block Grant – see AMCHP’s Legislative Alert here.]

We will watch closely as details are released to see if that success is sustained or if we will need to re-litigate last year’s proposed cut. Stay tuned for a Legislative Alert from AMCHP as soon as we know more. Other issues we will follow in this draft bill include assessing whether additional resources will be proposed to address the opioid and lead poisoning crises.

Regarding Zika funding, AMCHP continues to play a lead role in a broad coalition of nearly 80 MCH and public health-related groups advocating the urgent need for Congress to resolve differences and promptly pass an emergency supplemental appropriation providing states and localities with the resources needed to prevent, contain and respond to the Zika virus.

AMCHP has sent this letter to Congressional leaders and has signed on to several other coalition efforts underscoring the urgent need for action. Congress appears to be aiming to finalize a package before recessing for the Fourth of July. We will continue to press for urgent action and recommend checking AMCHP’s Zika web page for continuing updates.