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 Legislative Corner

Administration Releases Groundbreaking National Prevention Strategy
On June 16, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council released the National Prevention Strategy, a new comprehensive plan that will “help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.” The National Prevention Council, composed of 17 federal agencies and chaired by the Surgeon General, developed the strategy with consultation from outside experts and stakeholders.

AMCHP provided input into the development of this plan and strongly supports its focus on shifting from a sick care system to one promoting wellness. We also commend its embrace of health across the life course and specific inclusion of maternal and child health issues.

The National Prevention Strategy was called for under the Affordable Care Act. The strategy’s four goals include: 1) Healthy and Safe Community Environments; 2) Clinical and Community Preventive Services; 3) Empowered People; and 4) Elimination of Health Disparities. While maternal and child health issues are addressed in each of the seven priority areas, we specifically direct your attention to the section on “Reproductive and Sexual Health” beginning on page 44. Note the federal commitment to “Increase access to comprehensive preconception and prenatal care, especially for low income and at-risk women [and] research and disseminate ways to effectively prevent premature birth, birth defects, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (page 45), and suggested actions for state and local partners on page 46. More information on the National Prevention Strategy and the National Prevention Council can be found here 

AMCHP looks forward to working with the National Prevention Council and all interested stakeholders on implementing this plan which for the first time in our nation’s history provides a cross-sector strategy that identifies priorities for improving health. 

House Passes Deep WIC Cuts
The U.S. House of Representatives voted June 17 largely along party lines (217-203) to cut hundreds of thousands of mothers and young children off of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – eliminating access to critical nutritious foods, nutrition services and referrals to health care and social services.  

The legislation, the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture spending bill (H.R. 2112) funds WIC at $6.048 billion – a $686 million reduction from the current fiscal year’s funding level of $6.734 billion. Current funding allows WIC to serve roughly 8.9 million mothers and young children. According to colleagues at the National WIC Directors Association, between 200,000 and 750,000 low-income mothers and young children will be cut from the program in the midst of a still weakened economy if the House bill becomes law. Senate action has not yet taken place.  

AMCHP will continue to advocate against these cuts and report as this unfolds, and expects House action on the Labor HHS Appropriations bill which sets Title V MCH Block Grant funding in late July. 

Senate Introduces Combating Autism Act Reauthorization
Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) unveiled legislation to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act of 2006. This legislation ensures that the critical programs established under the original law continue for an additional three years, including CDC surveillance programs, HRSA intervention and training programs, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). These programs are set to expire in September of this year without any Congressional action. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Scott Brown (R-MA) are original cosponsors of this legislation. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D- PA) will be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  

GIH Offers State Grant Writing Assistance Fund
The Affordable Care Act offers a number of funding opportunities to state government agencies to support their efforts implementing the health reform law. Many states have found it difficult to prepare proposals to access these funds because of budgetary and staffing constraints, the quick turnaround time for responding to many federal grant announcements, and the major shifts in state government.

To address this issue, Grantmakers In Health (GIH), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, announced the availability of the GIH State Grant Writing Assistance Fund. The fund will provide up to $15,000 in matching funds per state to grantmakers who are interested in offering grant writing support to state government agencies. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the fund is depleted. See here for the full proposal request. Questions can be directed to Anna Spencer, GIH senior program associate, at (202) 452.8331 or aspencer@gih.org
 

Maternal Health Quality Bill Introduced
Legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for sweeping maternity care reform to improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies. The Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2141) is sponsored by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and places a national focus on maternity care practices by establishing an Interagency Coordinating Committee responsible for promoting the best evidence-based maternity practices across all federal programs. The legislation authorizes a public awareness media campaign to educate consumers about how to achieve the healthiest results for mothers and babies and expands federal research on best maternity practices, and authorizes data collection to pinpoint specific geographic areas of the country that lack maternity care providers. To see the full text of H.R. 2141 click here.