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 Legislative and Policy Corner

Momentum Builds to Advance Maternal Mortality Bill this Month
AMCHP is joining several organizations dedicated to improving maternal health to call on Congress to pass the bipartisan Maternal Health Accountability Act (S. 1112) to address maternal mortality by Mother's Day on May 13. Last week AMCHP led a letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the committee, in advance of the markup of opioids legislation, urging the inclusion of S. 1112 in the committee's proposed Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. S. 1112 was not included in the opioids legislation, but Murray addressed the problem of maternal mortality at the markup and committed to working with S. 1112's sponsors to mark up the bill in the HELP Committee in May.
 
House, Senate Committees Advance Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis
Committees in the House and Senate advanced legislation last week to combat the opioid crisis. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee passed 56 bills to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. The list of all the bills along with short descriptions are available here. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (S. 2680). This legislative package included provisions to address the effects of the opioids crisis on infants, children, and families, including by helping states improve plans of safe care for infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and helping to address child and youth trauma.

More information about the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 is available here. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said he wants the House to vote on opioids legislation before Memorial Day. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wants the Senate to move opioids legislation this summer.

Lawsuits Block Changes to Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Last week federal judges in three separate lawsuits ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' proposal to prematurely end five-year Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP) grants to 81 grantees was unlawful. These grantees had been given awards in 2015 for five years, but in July 2017, HHS announced that the grants would end in 2018 instead of in 2020. In a rebuke of the administration, federal judges in three lawsuits brought by some or all of the 81 grantees ruled that the decision to end funding early was unwarranted and ordered funding to be re-instated through 2020. HHS is appealing the decision.

These lawsuits come amid efforts by HHS to change TPP to fund programs that aim to reduce teen pregnancy through abstinence education models, arguing that the current TPP program is ineffective at preventing teen pregnancy, a claim opponents dispute. With litigation ongoing, AMCHP staff will continue to monitor future developments and provide resources to help members prepare to apply for TPP funding under all eventualities.

Get up to Date on Federal MCH Policy
The next event in the All-Member National MCH Policy Call series will take place on Thursday, May 3 from 2-3 p.m. ET.