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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Start your engines!
The Senate announced the dates for consideration of the FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations bills. The LHHS Subcommittee will mark up the bill on Jul. 9 and the full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on Jul. 11. In preparation for the hearing, AMCHP sent a
letter signed by 54 national organizations indicating strong support for sustained funding of the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant. AMCHP will keep you informed as this process moves forward.

WIC Breastfeeding Funding Update
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2014 House Agriculture Appropriations bill, which funds WIC at $6.655 billion in FY2014. This compares to the president’s FY2014 Budget request of $7.142 billion and last year’s final FY 2013 funding level of $6.522 billion, post-sequester. All of the set asides included in the WIC program (including breastfeeding counseling) will not be funded until the U.S. Department of Agriculture determines that WIC has met its caseload. Which, according to the
National WIC Association the FY 2014 House allocation is only enough to cover the caseloads and therefore the set asides will probably remain unfunded. Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) argued that it would be better to make that commitment up front, but her amendment to add $60 million for this purpose was rejected by Republicans on a voice vote.

AMCHP joined the National WIC Association and other leading organizations expressing our strong support for the breastfeeding peer counselor program a statement, which was shared with members of Congress. It is anticipated that the full House of Representatives will vote on this bill during the next month.

Click here to read the Politico article on the Appropriations Committee mark up.

Health Reform Implementation

HHS Announces Re-launch of and Education Tools
On Jun. 24, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the kick-off of the Health Insurance Marketplace education effort. This includes the new consumer focused website, and 24-hours-a-day consumer call center to, “help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for health insurance. The new tools will help Americans understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1.” For Spanish speaking consumers, also will be updated to match the new consumer focus.

“ is the destination for the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Americans may now access new educational information and learn what they can do to begin to get ready for open enrollment this fall.  The website will add functionality over the summer so that, by October, consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for qualified health plans.”

“If you’re not a consumer looking for health insurance and you want resources for your organization, technical Marketplace information, or press materials visit these sites respectively:”

Enroll America Launches Get Covered America Campaign
Get Covered America “is a national campaign of Enroll America focused on raising public awareness and engaging consumers about the new health insurance benefits and health care options made available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Powered by passionate staff and volunteers, our team has one motivating goal: to give you, the American consumer, the information you need so you can choose a health insurance plan that's right for you, your family, and your budget.” The campaign is gearing up for the open enrollment period that begins Oct. 1, 2013 and runs for six months. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also has information for outreach and enrollment.

Letter of Intent Due Jun. 28 for Second Round of Innovation Grants
Just a quick reminder that the nonbinding letters of intent are due Jun. 28 at 3 p.m. EDT for the CMS funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for round two of the Health Care Innovation Awards. CMS will accept applications until Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. EDT. Among the priority areas for CMS are:

  • Pediatric populations requiring high cost services
  • Children in foster care
  • Children at high risk for dental disease
  • Adolescents in crisis
  • Persons requiring long term support and services
  • Persons with serious behavioral health needs

Please read the full FOA for details.

QHP Certification Continues in States
States are working toward the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline to have qualified health plans (QHP) certified for people to purchase through the marketplace. Each state is unique in their process and deadlines, so it is important for advocates to understand how states are certifying the health insurance plans as well as what additional requirements states are putting in place for the plans. The National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) has a website with the information from states listed.