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 Legislative Corner

No Deal Yet on Debt Limit
As of press time, there appeared to be little progress in reaching agreement between the White House and Congress on how to address the rapidly approaching August 2 deadline to raise the federal debt limit. There has been little solid information on what potential cuts to health programs are on the table. AMCHP will continue to monitor and advocate that any cuts that fall disproportionally on public health programs will do more harm than good.

HHS Releases Health Insurance Exchange Rules
On July 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published two proposed rules. The first outlines a framework to help states build health insurance exchanges and the second rule addresses standards related to reinsurance, risk corridors and risk adjustment to assure stability in the new markets. These rules are a key element of the federal health reform because they lay the ground work for health insurance marketplaces in all states. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about nine million people are expected to utilize exchanges in the first year growing to 23 million by 2018. 

HHS is accepting public comment on the proposed rules during the next 75 days to learn from the public about how the rules can be improved. HHS intends to modify the proposals based on the public comments. AMCHP plans to provide a more detailed analysis in the next couple of weeks addressing the broad implications these proposed rules may have on maternal and child health programs and the populations they serve. To learn more about the proposed rules and for additional information, visit here 

Affordable Care Act Funding Awarded to School Based Health Centers
On July 14 the Department of Health and Human Services announced that $95 million in grants will be awarded to 278 school based health centers throughout the country to improve facilities and care to an additional 440,000 additional children. The awards are targeted for capital improvements to establish new sites or for the centers to upgrade their current facilities.  The eligible applicants were school based health centers or a sponsored center. The applicants needed to address the need for the service and the facility conditions. Additionally, the applicants needed to develop a delivery plan and the impact the funding would have on serving additional children. To view the press release and to see the full list of the grantees, visit here. 

Combating Autism Act Reauthorization Scheduled for Senate Committee Mark Up on July 20
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has scheduled a mark up of its version of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (S. 1094) on July 20. The House and Senate bills are identical, and would extend the law for three years at current funding levels. As a reminder, the AMCHP 2011 Policy Agenda includes a strong statement of support for reauthorizing the Combating Autism Act (CAA). Also, for those who are able and within your states’ rules on advocacy – here is a link to an Action Alert by our colleagues at the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) that provides an opportunity to weigh in with your elected officials in favor of reauthorization.