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 Legislation and Policy

AMCHP Hosts Congressional Briefing on Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies
On April 4, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and several national organizations to host a briefing on Capitol Hill, "Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies: Protecting Vulnerable Populations During and After Public Health Emergencies." A panel of national maternal and child health (MCH) leaders briefed more than 100 congressional staffers and MCH stakeholders on how the 2016 Zika outbreak shone a light on the importance of integrating maternal and child health with emergency preparedness and response.

Held in cooperation with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), co-chairs of the House Maternity Care Caucus, and moderated by AMCHP CEO Jonathan Webb, the session featured panelists Peggy Honein, Ph.D. from CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Sarah Mulkey of Children's National Health System, and Lacy Fehrenbach of the Washington State Department of Health.

Dr. Honein highlighted how CDC's new Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies initiative could help states to leverage public health surveillance that views mom and baby as a unit to monitor the long-term implications of congenital Zika virus infection as well as the impacts of other public health threats on MCH populations, including opioid use during pregnancy and perinatal exposure to dangerous substances like lead or the group of chemicals known as PFAS.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield highlighted the briefing in a tweet, which acknowledged the importance of surveillance for emerging threats to moms and babies and tagged AMCHP and the national organizations who co-sponsored the briefing.

Congresswomen Launch Black Maternal Health Caucus
On April 2, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) launched the congressional Black Maternal Health Caucus in the House of Representatives.

"Our caucus will elevate black maternal health as a national priority and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally competent policies and best practices for improving black maternal health," Rep. Underwood said at a news conference announcing the caucus.

At a congressional briefing later in the day, Rep. Adams said, "We chose to establish this caucus to bring congressional attention to worsening maternal health outcomes, particularly for black women. ... Black women – our friends, our families, our communities – they are all counting on us."

The launch of the Black Maternal Health Caucus was part of Black Maternal Health Week. More information about Black Maternal Health Week can be found on the Black Mamas Matter Alliance's website.

House, Senate Members Sign Letter Supporting Federal Programs to Address Maternal Mortality
With technical assistance and support from the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) led bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' respective Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

The letters urged the House and Senate appropriators to prioritize the highest possible funding level for several federal programs that seek to prevent maternal deaths and eliminate disparities in maternal health outcomes, including the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, Healthy Start, the Safe Motherhood and Infant Health portfolio of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

A total of 61 members of the House of Representatives signed the House letter and 23 senators signed the Senate letter. Click on the embedded links to view the full letter text and to see whether your representative in the House and/or senators co-signed the letter.

Congress Passes ACE Kids Act
On April 2, the Senate unanimously passed the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act of 2019 (ACE Kids Act) as part of H.R. 1839, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019. The House of Representatives had already unanimously passed H.R. 1839 on March 25, meaning that the bill now heads to the president to be signed into law.

The ACE Kids Act is a proposal that Congress has debated for several years to establish a state Medicaid option to provide coordinated care, including across state lines, through a medical home for children with complex medical conditions. For more information about the ACE Kids Act, please see the high-level summary and the detailed section-by-section summary of the final bill prepared by the Children's Hospital Association.

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 2 from 2-3 p.m. ET.