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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Public Health Appropriations, Stalls on Repeal and Replace 
The House Appropriations Committee last week approved its fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill. We are pleased to share that this bill includes $641,700,000 for the Title V MCH Block Grant, which represents level funding from fiscal 2017, despite a decrease in overall spending on Labor-HHS programs.

On another positive note, the bill rejects harmful cuts that were proposed to several MCH programs (including the Sickle Cell Demonstration Program, Autism and Other Developmental Disorders, Heritable Disorders, Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, and EMS for Children) in the president’s budget. The bill also includes report language supporting efforts by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to address maternal depression, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and improved provider and patient education about non-invasive prenatal screening. Disappointingly, however, the bill proposes cuts to other critical programs, including the elimination of Title X Family Planning, as well as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and a $74 million decrease for CDC’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (the majority of which comes from tobacco cessation programs). The overall decrease in funding for Labor-HHS programs is also troubling, as that continues to put pressure on the public health system at large. Full details are located here. (The report language for maternal and child health begins on page 24, a funding chart for all HRSA programs begins on page 178, and CDC programs begin on page 183). Read the rest of the legislative alert here.

Maternity Care Caucus Priorities Included in House Labor-HHS Bill
Several priorities of the House Maternity Care Caucus were also included in the Labor-HHS bill. Details can be found here and include provisions to better screen mothers for postpartum depression, improve prenatal screening education, request that the NIH provide a report on pregnancy-related research, and urge the establishment of a national consortium on breastfeeding research.