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 Legislative and Policy Corner

Congress Reaches Agreement on Appropriations - Increases for MCH!
On Sept. 13, Congress announced a deal to move forward with an appropriations package that would include fiscal year 2019 funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, along with the Department of Defense. AMCHP is thrilled to share that the conference agreement includes significant increases for several maternal and child health priorities, including the following highlights:

Health Resources and Services Administration

Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant: $677,700,000 ($26 million increase, which is directed to Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS))

  • Of the $26 million increase to the SPRANS portion of the Block Grant, the bill directs $23 million for State Maternal Health Innovation Grants to establish demonstrations to implement evidence-based interventions to address critical gaps in maternity care service delivery and reduce maternal mortality.

  • $3 million to expand implementation of the Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health Initiative's maternal safety bundles to all states and territories, the District of Columbia, and tribal entities.

  • Funding for the portion of the Block Grant that is distributed by formula to states remains level, though new dedicated funding for maternal mortality initiatives should free up funding for other purposes.

Autism and Other Developmental Disorders: $50,599,000 ($1.5 million increase)

Heritable Disorders Program: $16,383,000 ($500,000 increase)

Healthy Start: $122,500,000 ($12 million increase specifically to address maternal mortality)

Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression: $5,000,000 (level funding)

Pediatric Mental Health Care Access: $10,000,000 (level funding)

Title X Family Planning: $286,479,000 (level funding)

 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities: $153,560,000 ($13 million increase, of which $10 million is directed to a new initiative, Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies)

    • Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies: Supports CDC's continued collaboration with state, tribal, territorial, and local health departments to monitor mothers and babies impacted by Zika virus during pregnancy in highest risk jurisdictions.  It also allows the CDC to pilot the Zika surveillance/registry system in additional jurisdictions to capture data on other emerging public health threats to mothers and babies, such as opioid use during pregnancy, natural disasters, and pandemic influenza.

  • Safe Motherhood and Infant Health: $58,000,000 ($12 million increase)

    • The $12 million increase is specified for CDC to continue and expand its technical assistance to state Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) to build stronger data systems, improve data collection at the State level, and create consistency in data collection across state MMRCs.

More information about funding levels and report language contained in this bill can be found on the House Appropriations Committee website. The next step is for both the House and Senate to pass this bill in their respective chambers and send it to the president for his signature into law. We are optimistic that this will be accomplished before the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. AMCHP staff will keep you posted as the process moves forward and provide further detailed analysis on provisions of this bill at that time. In the meantime, thank you for all of your support to achieve these increased funding levels for important MCH programs and don't hesitate to contact AMCHP government affairs staff Amy Haddad (ahaddad@amchp.org) or Alyson Northrup (anorthrup@amchp.org) with further questions. 

Senate Passes PREEMIE Act
On Sept. 12, the Senate approved the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S.3029) by unanimous consent. The bill would renew the authorization of funding for federal research activities and workforce education programs focused on prematurity prevention. It would also extend the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality and update the Committee's charge to examine severe maternal morbidity. In addition, the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act would establish an interagency working group to coordinate all federal activities and programs related to preventing preterm birth, infant mortality, and other adverse birth outcomes. AMCHP supports this legislation. A companion bill in the House (H.R. 6085) is awaiting consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

House Committee Advances ACE Kids Act
The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act (H.R. 3325) on Sept. 13. 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 Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. 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, Oct. 4, from 2-3 p.m. ET.