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 Legislative and Policy Corner

Appropriations Update
Last week we were very happy to report that the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) passed a bill that includes a proposed $5 million increase for the Title V Maternal & Child Health Services Block Grant! The proposal would set Title V MCH Block Grant funding at $639 million for FY 2015, which matches the pre-sequestration funding level enacted in FY 2012. Although modest and not reflective of actual needs, this proposed increase represents a significant interim victory in an era of budget caps when many other programs receive flat or sometimes reduced funding. We were also pleased to be joined by 40 leading organizations serving women, children, and families in sending a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. View the Coalition letter here.

While we were expecting the full Senate Appropriations Committee to vote on the bill later in the week, the committee unexpectedly postponed consideration reportedly due to concerns about potential amendments on politically sensitive issues. Unfortunately this means that we are unlikely to see the FY 2015 Labor-HHS bill move forward until after the November elections, but we should be well positioned for when that ultimately occurs. AMCHP thanks all who mobilized to advocate for Title V – this is a clear sign that your voice is being heard.
 
Health Reform Implementation
On Jun. 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of $60 million in funding to support navigators in federally facilitated and state partnership marketplaces for 2014-2015. The funding opportunity announcement is open to eligible individuals, as well as private and public entities, applying to serve as navigators in states with a federally-facilitated or state partnership marketplace. It is open to new and returning Navigator applicants, and applications are due by Jul. 10.
 
"Family Glitch" Proposed Fix
On Jun. 5, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), along with 20 cosponsors, introduced The Family Care Act, to fix the so-called "family glitch" or "kids glitch." Under the ACA, health insurance offered to an employee is deemed "affordable" if the employee's share of premiums costs less than 9.5 percent of his or her family income. If it costs more, the employee and employee's family are eligible for tax credits to help pay premiums. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interprets the cost of family employer-sponsored coverage through the lens of the individual employee only. As a result, premium tax credits are not available to many families who, in reality, cannot afford family coverage.

The Family Care Act would require the IRS to calculate affordability of family coverage by comparing the costs of coverage for the whole family against the family income.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that roughly 500,000 children are impacted by the kid glitch. If the glitch isn't fixed and the Children's Health Insurance Program is not continued beyond 2015, two million more children could be left out of affordable coverage.