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 Legislative & Policy Corner

A Congressional Recess Update
After a flurry of activity over the past couple of months, Congress is completing a two-week recess. When Congress returns, it is anticipated that attention will turn toward drafting the annual appropriations bills, thus increasing interest in the looming sequester and protecting the Affordable Care Act mandatory funding streams. AMCHP continues to meet with members of Congress during this time and also is partnering with a number of coalitions to amplify the message regarding the significant impact sequestration will have on maternal and child health.

IOM Report Makes Recommendations to Bolster Funding and Shape the Future of Public Health
On Apr. 10, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report entitled For the Public’s Health: Investing in a Healthier Future. The report points out that Americans spent $8,086 per person on medical care in 2009 versus $251 in public health spending. It also recommends the development of a minimum package of public health services that every community should receive from its state and local health departments. The report calls for doubling federal spending on public health from $11 billion to $24 billion a year and creating a new transaction tax on medical care services to help pay for the increased spending on population health.

Following are three key IOM recommendations that may be of particular interest to state and local MCH leaders:

  • "To ensure that all communities can experience a common standard of health protection and promotion and to enhance understanding of what communities and the nation receive in return for their public health investments, the committee introduces the concept of a minimum package of public health services that includes foundational capabilities and basic programs that all public health departments should have."
  • "The committee recommends that all public health agencies and associations endorse the need for the minimum package and also recommends that federal departments and agencies that fund state and local public health departments take steps to facilitate more flexible and rational budgets and efficient use of resources."
  • "The passage of the Affordable Care Act may create opportunities for public health departments to focus more intensively on delivering population-based services because the law will trigger a concerted effort to shift clinical care out of health departments. Accordingly, the committee recommends that public health departments work with other public and private providers to develop adequate alternative capacity in a community‟s clinical care delivery system."

These themes have been consistently explored by the AMCHP Board of Directors in discussions about the future of Title V in a health reform environment and may provide additional insights as that dialogue continues. AMCHP staff is also participating in an IOM workshop on Apr. 25 to discuss the recommendations and will provide a report on that event.