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 Legislative and Policy Corner

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
As an organization devoted to improving the health of all women, children, youth and families, including those with special health needs, AMCHP is concerned about the potential health implications of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Individuals without legal status or who fear they may lose legal status are less likely to access health care services and more likely to experience stress and other mental health disorders. Considering that DACA recipients are adolescents and young adults, and considering the broad public support for helping that population lead productive, healthy lives, we must consider the potential negative health outcomes that may arise from losing legal status as they attend school, enter the workforce and begin families of their own. AMCHP urges Congress and the administration to work swiftly in a bipartisan manner to craft a solution that takes into account the public health impact of ending or revising DACA.

For further insight about caring for immigrant populations, see this Science article about the effect of a mother's immigration status on their children's mental health, as well as this article in Pediatrics about Immigrant Families, Children With Special Health Care Needs, and the Medical Home.

House Passes FY18 Omnibus Appropriations
On Sept. 14 the House of Representatives passed an omnibus fiscal 2018 appropriations bill that includes flat funding for the Title V MCH Block Grant at $641.7 million. During consideration of the bill, a few maternal and child health related amendments were added, including:

  • $24.8 million increase for Healthy Start, sponsored by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)
  • Funding for telepsychiatry programs to link pediatricians and primary care doctors with psychiatrists and psychologists in areas where patients lack access to needed care, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.)
  • Funding for infant and early childhood mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.)

This is just one step in the process. The Senate is assembling its appropriations bills, and both chambers will have to come up with a joint package to be agreed upon by Dec. 8, when the current continuing resolution expires.

MIECHV Update
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) plan to introduce a bipartisan Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) reauthorization bill on Sept. 19. This bill will reauthorize MIECHV for five years at the current funding level and excludes the harmful state match provision that was included in the House Ways and Means Committee's bill. AMCHP and the Home Visiting Coalition will support this bill and continue urging Congress to pass a MIECHV reauthorization bill before Sept. 30, along with several other health programs whose funding expires soon including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), and Family to Family Information Centers.