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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Budget Update
As of press time, it is unclear if Congress will approve legislation to keep the federal government open. AMCHP will keep you updated on the developments as this process unfolds and will issue a legislative alert as soon as Congress approves or fails to approve a continuing resolution. For questions, please contact Brent Ewig or Carolyn Mullen.

Preterm Birth Legislation
On Sept. 25, the Senate approved the PREEMIE Act (S. 252), which authorizes funding to expand research, education and intervention activities related to preterm birth and infant mortality. Importantly, this legislation also codifies the existing Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality. The duties of the advisory committee include the following:

(2) DUTIES- The Advisory Committee shall provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary concerning the following activities:

(A) Programs of the Department of Health and Human Services that are directed at reducing infant mortality and improving the health status of pregnant women and infants.

(B) Strategies to coordinate the various Federal programs and activities with State, local, and private programs and efforts that address factors that affect infant mortality.

(C) Implementation of the Healthy Start program under section 330H of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254c-8) and Healthy People 2020 infant mortality objectives.

(D) Strategies to reduce preterm birth rates through research, programs, and education.     

The legislation requires that within one year of enactment of the law the committee produce a plan that does the following:

(3) PLAN FOR HHS PRETERM BIRTH ACTIVITIES- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, the Advisory Committee (or an advisory committee in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act and designated by the Secretary) shall develop a plan for conducting and supporting research, education, and programs on preterm birth through the Department of Health and Human Services and shall periodically review and revise the plan, as appropriate. The plan shall--

(A) examine research and educational activities that receive Federal funding in order to enable the plan to provide informed recommendations to reduce preterm birth and address racial and ethnic disparities in preterm birth rates;

(B) identify research gaps and opportunities to implement evidence-based strategies to reduce preterm birth rates among the programs and activities of the Department of Health and Human Services regarding preterm birth, including opportunities to minimize duplication; and

(C) reflect input from a broad range of scientists, patients, and advocacy groups, as appropriate.

The March of Dimes is leading the advocacy effort on this legislation and AMCHP is on record in support of the bill. Before the legislation is signed into law, the House of Representatives must approve the bill before the end of 2014.  

Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act
On Sept. 26 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee held a hearing entitled, “Newborn Screening Saves Lives—The Past, Present and Future of the Newborn Screening.”  This hearing was chaired by Sen. Hagan (D-NC) and Sen. Enzi (R-WY). Sen. Casey (D-PA) also attended. The witnesses included Dr. Jennifer Howse, March of Dimes; Dr. Rodney Howell former chair of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children; Natasha Bonhomme, Genetic Alliance and a family from North Carolina. During the course of the hearing, the panelist testified about the value and importance of newborn screening and strongly urged Congress to approve the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (S. 1417). To view the hearing, click here.


In Case You Missed It, AMCHP Releases Two MCH ACA Resources

Tomorrow, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin open enrollment of eligible Americans for coverage beginning as early as Jan. 1, 2014. AMCHP released this fact sheet to provide state maternal and child health (MCH) leaders with informational resources and suggested steps to support outreach and enrollment and help ensure improved access to care for MCH populations.

AMCHP also published a new fact sheet entitled “Who Will be Covered for What in 2014?This tool is designed to support your role in educating women, children, including those with special health care needs, and families about projected eligibility levels for various health insurance coverage options as well as minimum eligibility levels for health insurance coverage. State MCH programs also can use this to anticipate where there may be potential continued gaps in health insurance coverage and benefits for MCH populations.