By Brent Ewig
Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs
The election results of Nov. 8, 2016, are creating massive shifts in the policy landscape in our nation's capital. While much of the future is uncertain, AMCHP's policy team has begun to outline anticipated opportunities and challenges for maternal and child health policy in the coming year. As always, we've approached our analysis preserving our commitment to non-partisanship.
While several unknown factors remain and substantial details are needed to inform our messaging and strategies, we convened an all-member teleconference on Nov. 30 to begin a dialogue and share analysis of potential scenarios affecting 1) budget impact on MCH programs, 2) the future of health reform and 3) the future of Medicaid and CHIP.
In short, on the budget front we expect continued pressure for deficit reduction focused on the non-defense discretionary portion of the budget that includes the Title V MCH Block Grant and most other public health programs. On health reform, the president-elect and Congressional leaders continue to place repeal of the Affordable Care Act as one of their top priorities when the new Congress convenes in January. Much less clear are the expected timing and content of a replacement bill and the length of the transition period between repeal and replace.
Regarding CHIP: To date there have been few indications about its future, although Congress must act by Sept. 30 to extend this critical program, along with the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV); the Personal Responsibility Education Program; the Family to Family Health Information Centers program; and the mandatory portion of the community health center program funding.
Finally, on the Medicaid front, both the president-elect and Congressional leaders have expressed enthusiasm for reforms that allow states to choose either a block grant or per capita cap. Clearly, there are major implications regarding Medicaid for maternal and child health populations, including children with special health care needs. We expect to be following this debate closely and sharing updates and analysis – although unlike advocacy for the MCH Block Grant, AMCHP's options to engage with policymakers on divisive issues will probably be limited.
On the membership teleconference we heard from AMCHP CEO Lori Freeman and Board President Eileen Forlenza. They set the tone for us to move forward while grounded in our mission and vision. We also previewed our 100-Day Agenda, which is being shared now with transition officials in the Trump administration.
As always, your feedback and suggestions to guide AMCHP are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.