Legislative & Policy Corner

Appropriations Update
Tomorrow, Jun. 12, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations subcommittee will mark up the FY 2013 LHHS Appropriations Bill. On Jun. 14, the full committee will consider this legislation. AMCHP staff will closely follow these developments and send out a legislative alert as soon as the proposed funding levels for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant are released to the public. There are rumors that the House will mark up the LHHS bill the following week, though no official announcement has been released.

Non-Defense Discretionary Community Unites
Last week, 300 advocates from the non-defense discretionary (NDD) community met for a town hall meeting to discuss our efforts to unite against the sequester and urge Congress to provide a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not rely on further cuts to non-defense discretionary funding. The non-defense discretionary community includes advocates from every sector of the non-defense federal government, including law enforcement, research, education, labor, health, transportation, interior, etc. During the next couple of months, this community will be circulating sign-on letters, meeting with members of Congress and developing messaging about the significant role NDD plays in the everyday lives of Americans. AMCHP will continue to partner with the broader efforts and articulate the impact sequestration will have on maternal and child health (MCH) programs.

House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Includes Proposed WIC Funding
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which includes proposed funding levels for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Specifically, the bill provides $6.9 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $303.5 million above last year’s level and $119 million below the president’s request. Language is included for oversight and monitoring requirements, as well as food price tracking. It is important to note that earlier this year the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill with $7.041 billion for WIC, an increase over the FY 2012 level of $6.618 billion. Currently, it is unclear when or if this legislation will be brought before the House or Senate floor for a vote.

Supreme Court to Rule Soon on the ACA 
The Supreme Court is expected to release its ruling in the next two weeks on the constitutionality of various provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) from two cases in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, and Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The suits challenge the constitutionality of the law's individual mandate that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance and provisions requiring states to expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs (extending coverage to individuals with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level).

AMCHP is closely following the Supreme Court decision and will provide further information, analysis and the implications for maternal and child health populations once the ruling is issued. In the meantime, a new resource by the National Health Education Law Program provides a summary of the Supreme Court decision pros and cons here. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured also has a good primer resource on the suit here. For more information contact Carolyn McCoy, senior policy manager.