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 Legislative and Policy Corner

House Committee Holds Hearing on Maternal Mortality Bill
On Sept. 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health held a hearing entitled "Better Data and Better Outcomes: Reducing Maternal Mortality in the U.S." to consider a discussion draft of H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act. The text of the discussion draft was identical to the version of S. 1112, the Maternal Health Accountability Act, that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions unanimously approved in June.

The legislation would authorize the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to award grants to states and tribal entities to establish or expand statewide or regional Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs), which are the gold standard in maternal mortality surveillance.

AMCHP Board President Susan Chacon submitted testimony for the record in support of the legislation. Compelling witness testimony and insightful questions and statements from Members of Congress raised the visibility of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in the United States as well as the importance of supporting MMRCs to improve maternal health outcomes.

AMCHP is proud to play a key role in advocating for the passage of this legislation. For a peek at what that advocacy looks like, check out "Behind the Scenes: Working to Pass Federal Maternal Mortality Legislation" from the most recent edition of AMCHP's PULSE newsletter. AMCHP will work with partners to continue building momentum to pass the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act / Maternal Health Accountability Act before the end of this year.

President Trump Signs FY19 Appropriations Legislation Into Law
On Sept. 28, President Trump signed appropriations package H.R. 6157 into law, ensuring federal funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (among other departments) through fiscal year 2019, thereby averting a government shutdown at the end of September. H.R. 6157 includes fiscal year 2019 funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and the Department of Defense, as well as stopgap funding for all remaining appropriations legislation that Congress failed to approve before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

As AMCHP shared previously, the appropriations package includes significant increases for several maternal and child health priorities. More information about funding levels and report language contained in this bill can be found on the House Appropriations Committee website.
 
AMCHP Issues Statement on Public Charge Draft Proposed Rule
AMCHP issued the following statement in response to news about a draft proposed rule to change the definition of public charge when applying for legal permanent residency in the United States, citing concerns about families' access to health care:
 
"We are deeply concerned about news from the Department of Homeland Security regarding a draft proposed rule titled "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds." This proposed rule would expand the benefits that would be considered in determining if a person applying for his or her legal permanent residency (also known as a "green card") is likely to become a public charge.  As leaders in promoting maternal and child health, we have recently witnessed firsthand an alarming trend of families declining to access health care services they are legally entitled to because of news reports regarding the upcoming rule. Individuals have expressed fear that accessing certain services could jeopardize their or their family members' future immigration processes. We are also particularly concerned about the families which may include children with special health care needs whose parents will be increasingly reluctant to access needed medical care for their children based on the status of the parents even if the children are citizens. 
 
"Even though certain programs are not included in the draft proposed rule, we know families have foregone benefits under those programs.  An example of one of these critical programs is WIC, which provides crucial nutrition and health support for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women as well as infants and young children, and enables them to get a healthy start in life. We fear that moving forward with this proposed rule will continue to sow confusion among families and negatively affect their health during especially vulnerable times, such as pregnancy or the birth of a child. We urge the administration to refrain from moving forward with these proposed changes."  

House Passes Opioids Legislation with MCH Provisions
On Sept. 28, the House passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, to further address the opioid crisis. The latest version of this authorizing legislation was a compromise between House and Senate bills introduced earlier this year. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill the week of Oct. 1. A three-page summary of maternal and child health provisions included in the compromise legislation is available on AMCHP's website.
 
House Passes Emergency Preparedness Legislation with MCH Provisions
On Sept. 25, the House passed H.R. 6378, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 by voice vote. This is a reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, more commonly known as PAHPA. H.R. 6378 is similar to the Senate version of the reauthorization, S. 2852, which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in June 2018. It is unclear at this time when the Senate will consider its version on the Senate floor. A one-page summary of maternal and child provisions included in H.R. 6378 is available on AMCHP's website.

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.