Legislative Corner

President’s Budget Update
In case you missed it, on Feb. 13, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal for the federal government. This budget includes proposed funding levels for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including $640 million for the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant. This represents a less than 1 percent cut from the congressionally appropriated level of $645 million for Title V for fiscal year 2012. Additionally, the president’s budget proposes no funding for Family to Family Health Information Centers, cuts $664 million in budget authority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and cuts funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund. 

It is important to note that the president’s budget is just the first step in the annual funding process and is an indication of the administration’s funding priorities. This proposal does not get signed into law. Congress will decide on final funding levels during the upcoming year as they develop their annual appropriations bills. AMCHP will be providing a more detailed analysis during the next couple of weeks and will be working diligently to convince policymakers to sustain funding for critical MCH programs. A link to the full budget justification for the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau funding is available here (starting on page 186). A link to the full budget justification for the CDC is here.

Prevention and Public Health Fund Slashed
On Friday, Feb. 17, Congress approved legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and Medicare physician payment rate provisions. In order to pay for a portion of this package, Congress slashed $5 billion from the $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund. Other cuts included: halting a higher Medicaid matching rate for the state of Louisiana in 2014; reducing Medicaid payments to hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of low-income patients; “bad debt” payment cuts to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and reducing Medicare payments to clinical laboratories.

Thus, despite the valiant efforts of the public health community, the reduction in funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund will have an impact on public health especially during this tough budget climate. While it appears we may have lost the battle on this bill, the fight continues to SAVE THE PREVENTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH FUND and the need to educate policymakers on the value of prevention and public health. AMCHP will continue to work with our members and the broader public health community to make the case to preserve the fund.

AMCHP Responds to HHS Essential Health Benefits Bulletin
AMCHP recently submitted comments in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Essential Health Benefits Bulletin. The comments were developed by the AMCHP Legislative & Health Care Finance Committee and convey concerns about how some preventive care and services for children and youth with special health care needs will be addressed under the proposed approach. AMCHP continues to represent the perspective of state Title V MCH and CYSHCN programs on implementation issues and, as always, welcomes your feedback and suggestions, which can be shared with Brent Ewig, Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

New AMCHP/Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief Highlights New Opportunities for Integrating and Improving Health Care for Women, Children, and Their Families
A new issue brief authored by AMCHP Senior Advisor Karen VanLandeghem and former Commonwealth Fund Vice President Dr. Ed Schor explores how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives states new tools and funding to integrate public and private delivery of health care services. Many states are already integrating services for low-income women and children to improve outcomes and reduce costs. For example, many state Medicaid agencies and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, public health agencies, provider groups, private insurers, children’s hospitals and family organizations are partnering to share resources, including technical assistance, coordinated care and quality improvement efforts. This issue brief highlights the efforts of Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Vermont to integrate health care services for low-income women and children, especially through state Title V maternal and child health programs. For a copy of the brief, click here.