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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Reminder and Updated Resources for Hill Visits and Congressional Reception
Thank you to everyone who joined for our advocacy training webinar on Jan. 7.  A link to the recording as well as related materials may be found on the AMCHP website here. Please note that we will also make available, at conference registration, an appropriations fact sheet that can be used for educational (as opposed to lobbying) purposes as well as talking points and other leave-behind materials. In addition, updated state profiles will soon be posted to the AMCHP site. Finally, please remember to e-mail ahaddad@amchp.org with details of confirmed meeting times and to RSVP for our congressional reception on Monday Jan. 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. EST by clicking here.

114th Congress Gets to Work
The 114th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 6, and although members are still completing some organizational tasks, such as finalizing committee and subcommittee assignments, they have already taken a number of votes related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Two bills passed the House with wide bipartisan support: one to exclude veterans who have health coverage through Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs from being counted toward the law's employer mandate calculations and another to exclude volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel from those calculations. Pres. Obama indicated support for both of these measures.

On Jan. 8, the House also passed a bill to change the ACA definition of full-time from a 30 hour workweek to a 40 hour workweek, which means that employers who must provide coverage to full-time workers would not be obligated to cover employees who were fewer than 40 hours per week. The Senate is slated to take up the same bill soon, though Pres. Obama has issued a veto threat. Critics of the proposal believe it will cause many employers to cut employee hours in order to avoid having to comply with the mandate or pay penalties.

Health Reform Implementation

Open Enrollment
Since the start of the open enrollment period, nearly 6.8 million individuals have selected a plan or were automatically reenrolled in a Marketplace plan. According to Sec. Burwell, "In the first month, 87 percent of consumers got financial assistance to help lower the cost of premiums." The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed helpful resources to help individuals better understand coverage and benefits through their Coverage to Care initiative. The resources, including videos and booklets, can be accessed here. AMCHP also has an open enrollment fact sheet for MCH leaders. This resource includes suggested steps for MCH leaders during the open enrollment period. The fact sheet is posted here.  

Who's Covered for What in 2015 and Beyond?
AMCHP has developed an updated resource that provides an overview of health coverage options for specific MCH populations. The chart identifies coverage options under Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, and options for those remaining uninsured and includes information for children (including those with special health care needs), adult women (under age 65), and pregnant women. The coverage chart includes interactive links to various helpful ACA resources. For questions or comments about the chart, please contact Carolyn McCoy or Atyya Chaudhry

New Report by Urban Institute
A recent report by the Urban Institute, Public Education, Outreach and Application Assistance, describes general trends in ACA outreach and education and promising practices by states and territories. For example, states such as Minnesota and Colorado advertised ACA through coverage stories of real people. Kentucky used a "grass-tops" education strategy, involving clergy and community leaders who would then educate their respective constituents. The District of Columbia colocated tax preparers and ACA application assisters to help people file taxes and get coverage at the same time. 

State Medicaid Expansion Alternative Benefit Plans
A chart developed by the National Academy for State Health Policy State Refor(u)m Initiative tracks the status of state Alternative Benefit Plan (ABP) decisions for the Medicaid expansion population. ABPs are required to cover the 10 essential health benefits (EHB) as outlined in the ACA. The chart provides useful information including ABP status, benefit package, EHB plan, among other items. For states that have expanded Medicaid, the chart includes links to the ABP State Plan Amendment (SPA) that may include important information about benefits and scope for specific MCH populations.