Legislative & Policy Corner

AMCHP Invited to White House to Discuss Sequestration
On Feb. 19, Carolyn Mullen and Brent Ewig were honored to represent AMCHP at a White House event where the president once again spoke out against the looming sequester. Carolyn also represented AMCHP at a follow-up meeting with senior White House advisors organized by the Coalition for Health Funding on Feb. 20. We continue to make sure that AMCHP is at the table and providing a leading voice about why sequestration or any further cuts are bad for moms, kids and families.

As it stands there is little progress on avoiding the across the board sequester cuts scheduled for Mar. 1, 2013. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) now calculates that sequestration will require an annual reduction of roughly 5 percent for nondefense programs and roughly 8 percent for defense programs. However, given that cuts must be achieved over only seven months instead of 12, the effective percentage reductions will be approximately 9 percent for nondefense programs and 13 percent for defense programs. Congress is on recess for the week and it is unclear at this juncture if Congress will punt, replace or let sequestration move forward.

Some of the conventional wisdom is shifting to predict that the sequester will be allowed to happen on March 1 but then perhaps addressed by a deal to replace the current continuing resolution, which expires Mar. 27. Our goal is to continue to keep the membership informed of where things stand and what we are doing on your behalf. One contingency we are beginning to plan for is a rapid assessment and documentation of how cuts are undermining MCH efforts if the sequestration goes into effect.

In the meantime, AMCHP continues to advocate for a balanced approach, engage with partners and closely monitor developments during the crucial upcoming weeks. Please contact Carolyn Mullen or Brent Ewig if you have any questions.

Health Reform Implementation

HHS Announces 27 Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Awards
On Feb. 15, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the funding for the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced 27 recipients of new Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns awards, made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Up to $41.4 million can be used by states, caregivers and others to find new ways to prevent significant, long-term health problems for high-risk pregnant women and newborns enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For more information on the program and awardees, click here.

Deadline Passes for States to Decide on Partnership for Health Insurance Marketplaces
Feb. 15 was the deadline for states to declare their intention to partner with the federal government in the implementation of the health insurance marketplace. Late in 2012, states had to indicate if they were going to establish their own marketplace, but had until Feb. 15 to indicate if they were going partner with the federal government or allow the federal government to establish the marketplace in the state. To view the map which shows how states’ marketplaces will be established, click here.