Federal Budget Update
As of press time (August 1, 2011), Congress appears to have come to an agreement on the debt ceiling, agreeing in principal to legislation that would raise the debt ceiling, while making significant cuts to the federal budget. The bill would immediately enact 10-year discretionary spending caps generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction; authorize the president to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013 and establish a bipartisan committee to identifying an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform. Congress would be required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011. If the Committee is unable to come up with the necessary cuts, an enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending.
Congress is expected to vote today on the legislation and while it needs to be on the president’s desk by Tuesday evening for his signature, it remain unclear if Congressional leaders have the votes to pass it for sure.
Meanwhile, the ongoing saga of the budget debate has affected the timing of the regular appropriations cycle, pushing action FY 2012 spending bills back later than anticipated. The House of Representative’s Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Subcommittee had been prepared to mark up its FY 2012 Appropriations bill in July; however, action is now postponed until after the August congressional recess. No details on proposed funding levels in that bill are yet known, and advocates will now have to wait until September to see the proposal. The House has currently passed six of the 13 regular appropriations bills for the year, while the Senate has so far tackled one with many members waiting to see the outcome of the debt limit debate.
AMCHP continues to advocate for adequate funding for the Title V Maternal & Child Health Block Grant both with Congress and the Administration. The August recess presents a unique opportunity for AMCHP members to connect with their representatives in Congress and stress the importance of funding for maternal and child health programs. AMCHP has developed resources for educating congressional leaders on Title V and will be asking members who are able to consider submitting letters or articles to their local newspapers on the issue. Stay tuned for additional important information from AMCHP about how to reach out to your member of congress.
HHS Issues Guidelines for Preventive Health Services for Women
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidelines to ensure that women have access to eight preventive health services at no cost sharing. Developed by the Institute of Medicine, the new guidelines require new health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012, to cover the below services without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible. These guidelines will contribute significantly to state efforts to improve women’s health overall, and support efforts to promote preconception and inter-conception care for women of child bearing age.
Women’s Preventive Services
- Well-woman visits
- Screening for gestational diabetes
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older
- Sexually-transmitted infection counseling
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling
- FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
- Domestic violence screening and counseling
To view the guidelines and for additional information, visit here.
Health Insurance Exchange Regulation
AMCHP is continuing to sift though the “Establishment of Exchanges and Qualified Health Plans” regulation released on July 11, 2011. This regulation provides a framework from which states will build their health insurance exchanges. AMCHP staff is meeting with children’s health groups this week to explore the impact this regulation will have on maternal and child health populations. We will provide a more detailed analysis of the regulation during the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we wanted to make you aware of a resource provided by Kaiser Family Foundation which monitors states’ progress toward creating health insurance exchanges and what that exchange may look like. To view the resource, visit here.