On Sept. 18, the U.S. Senate approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) that provides ongoing funding for all federal programs including the Title V Maternal & Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant through Dec. 11, 2014. The bill was previously approved by the House and is expected to be signed shortly by President Obama. This stop-gap measure is necessary because Congress has not passed any regular appropriations bills prior to the upcoming Oct. 1 start of FY 2015. This bill also includes $88 million in new funding to address the Ebola outbreak in Africa, which necessitated a .06 percent across the board cut to stay within pre-established budget caps. Our initial analysis shows this will reduce the Title V MCH Block Grant by approximately $350,000, but we will need confirmation and timing logistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Budget office.
What Happens Next
Congress will need to revisit FY 2014 appropriations again prior to Dec. 11, and is expected to do so in a lame duck session set to convene in mid November. At this time it is unknown how Congress will address funding levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. As a reminder, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health passed a bill earlier this summer that proposed a $5 million increase to the Title V MCH Services Block Grant, which would bring the program to $639 million. Last week, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ranking member of the House Appropriations Health Subcommittee, released a bill mirroring that level. This is a positive affirmation on how some members of Congress are prioritizing Title V and an indication of where key MCH champions would begin negotiations. Through our participation in the Coalition for Health Funding, we are part of a broad effort urging Congress "to make appropriations legislation a priority in the lame duck session, and work in earnest to enact final, omnibus spending legislation for fiscal year 2015 before the end of the calendar year." AMCHP will also continue to urge Congress to fund the Title V MCH Block Grant at the proposed $639 level, and will provide additional updates when the lame duck session convenes.
What Can You Do?
It's not too early to start planning to visit with your elected officials during the AMCHP Annual Conference in January 2015! As in previous years, we are encouraging all attendees who are able to schedule meetings on the Hill for Tues. Jan. 27, so please mark your calendar now. Next year there will be a new Congress to educate on both the ongoing needs for the Title V MCH Services Block Grant as well as the imperative to renew funding for critical programs including the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), the Family to Family Health Information Centers program, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We encourage you to begin the process soon if you need to seek approval to participate, and will schedule both online and on-site trainings for both beginner and veteran advocates closer to the Annual Conference. Thanks as always for your work to improve maternal and child health.