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 Legislation and Policy

Partial Government Shutdown Persists
The government has been in partial shutdown since Dec. 22. While most programs under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services are unaffected, the WIC program, which is funded through the Department of Agriculture, is impacted by the shutdown. We would like to share with you this latest update from our colleagues at the National WIC Association:

  • WIC agencies continue operating as normal and have so far not reported any issues or disturbances to normal operations.
  • Agencies are expected to have adequate funding on hand currently to last through the month of January.
  • Food and Nutrition Service has communicated to WIC agencies that they plan to undertake measures on Jan. 3 to identify and provide additional funding, including: allocating all remaining carryover funds and preliminary recoveries to State agencies, working with State agencies to make their FY 2018 Nutrition Services and Administration spend forward funds available for FY 2019 obligations, and asking state agencies to identify additional unspent FY 2018 funds that may be available for recovery and reallocation as FY 2019 grant funds.

How you can help: Please get the word out that WIC remains open!

President Signs into Law 3 MCH bills
At the end of the 115th Congress, President Trump signed into law three bills to improve the health and well-being of maternal and child health populations: the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318/S. 1112); the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (H.R. 315 / S. 783); and the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6085/S. 3029). AMCHP endorsed and actively supported each of these bills, which are summarized here:

  • The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act authorized a new grant program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funding to states and tribes to establish or enhance statewide or regional maternal mortality review committees. The program is authorized at $12 million for each fiscal year from 2019 through 2023, for a total of $60 million. Congress appropriated $12 million to the program for fiscal year 2019. CDC released a grant forecast in mid-December and AMCHP expects CDC to publish the notice of funding opportunity in the coming months.
  • The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to collect and analyze data on access to maternity care across the country. With that data, HRSA will create a new health professional shortage area ("HPSA") designation specific to maternity care. The National Health Service Corps will use this new HPSA designation to help get maternity care providers where they are most needed.
  • The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act renewed the authorization of funding for federal research activities focused on prematurity prevention. It updated the charge of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality to include an examination of severe maternal morbidity, and encouraged the secretary of health and human services to establish an interagency working group to coordinate federal activities and programs related to preventing preterm birth, infant mortality, and related adverse birth outcomes.

President Signs Criminal Justice Reform Bill with MCH Provisions
President Trump signed criminal justice reform legislation, known as the First Step Act, into law on Dec. 21. Among other provisions, the law bans the shackling of pregnant and postpartum women in custody in the federal prison system. There are exceptions to the shackling ban in certain extreme cases, but even then, only the least restrictive restraints necessary to reduce the risk of escape or harm to self or others are permitted. The act also seeks to place prisoners who are in federal custody in facilities that are as close to their primary residence as possible. The goal of this provision is to make it easier for prisoners to stay connected to and see their families.

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, Nov. 1, from 2-3 p.m. ET.