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 Legislative and Policy Corner

Senate Passes Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill with MCH Amendments
The Senate passed its fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS) bill on Aug. 23 as part of a combined package with Department of Defense appropriations.  During consideration of the bill, the Senate approved two amendments related to maternal and child health (MCH):

  • Heitkamp-Murkowski amendment to provide for $1 million through the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health account for grants that may be used to purchase and implement telehealth services to coordinate obstetric care between pregnant women living in rural areas and obstetric care providers;
  • Heller-Manchin amendment to provide $2 million through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Birth Defects, Developmental Disabilities, Disabilities and Health account to improve surveillance of prenatal and newborn health related to opioid use in order to reduce risks associated with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

For more information on other MCH highlights from the original Senate L-HHS bill, see AMCHP's overview of the bill.

With only a few legislative days left in the current fiscal year, it is unlikely that the House will take up and pass its Labor-HHS bill before fiscal year 2018 funding expires on Sept. 30. Therefore, we anticipate a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through November or December.  As always, AMCHP staff will keep you posted on any developments.

AMCHP Endorses New Maternal Mortality Legislation
Members of the U.S. Senate introduced two bills last month to address maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity: the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act (S. 3392) and the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act (S. 3363).

The MOMS Act, introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would: provide dedicated funding for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Program at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau; provide grants to states or hospitals to implement maternal safety bundles; and encourage the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with states to compile data from state maternal mortality review committees to improve national surveillance of maternal mortality. AMCHP Interim CEO Barbara Laur contributed a quote in support of the MOMS Act to Sen. Gillibrand's news release announcing introduction of the bill.

The Maternal CARE Act, introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), would create two new federal grant programs focused on reducing racial disparities in maternal health, including implicit bias training grants and a pregnancy medical home demonstration project. The bill would also direct the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations for incorporating bias recognition in clinical skills testing for U.S. medical schools. 

AMCHP endorsed both of these bills to address maternal mortality and will work with partners to support their passage into law.

Hearing Scheduled for the ACE Kids Act
The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee scheduled a hearing on the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act (H.R. 3325) for Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. The ACE Kids Act, introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), would establish a state Medicaid option to provide coordinated care through a medical home for children with complex medical conditions. A companion bill in the Senate (S. 428) is led by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

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, Sept. 6, from 2-3 p.m. ET.