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 Legislative & Policy Corner

31 Organizations Call on Congress to Continue Support for Title V SPRANS
On Oct. 14, AMCHP was joined by 30 organizations representing the public health community, health professionals, academic institutions and families in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee reiterating support for the Title V MCH Services Block Grant in its entirety and opposing any cuts to Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) funding. This letter was sent in response to the Senate Appropriations Committee proposal earlier this year to reduce funding for the SPRANS line. In the letter, organizations across the country reinforced the integral part that SPRANS grantees play to improve maternal and child health, including training, research and promoting innovative practices. As Congress continues its work on FY 2016 Appropriations and prepares to tackle FY 2017 shortly thereafter, it is crucial that the Appropriations committees are aware of the support for sustained funding for all of the Title V MCH Services Block Grant components. Click here to read the letter.
 
Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act Passes Energy & Commerce Committee
The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act (HR 3242) passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Sept. 30. This bipartisan legislation would require child-resistant packaging for e-liquid products that contain nicotine. Recent data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) showed nearly 4,000 adverse incidents related to e-cigarette exposures in 2014 alone. The bill now awaits further action on the House floor.
 
Health Reform Implementation
 
ACA Promotes Rapid Expansion and Greater Access to Birth Centers
There are nearly 4 million births a year in the United States, 98 percent of which occur in traditional hospital settings. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made birth centers more available to families looking for a more intimate and private birthing experience. Since 2010, the number of accredited birth centers in the United States has jumped 57 percent. The ACA requires state Medicaid programs to pay birth centers a facility fee that makes their operation more affordable. It also requires many insurance carriers to cover birth centers in the same manner that a traditional hospital birth is covered. Birth center deliveries are often more economically feasible for families as well, depending on their insurance plan. For a full list of accredited birth centers across the United States, visit the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers.

Kaiser Analysis: Eligibility for ACA Coverage among the Uninsured
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new analysis providing national and state-specific estimates of eligibility for ACA coverage options among the remaining uninsured. This information is particularly relevant with open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning on Nov. 1. The analysis reveals that patterns of eligibility vary by state, and that roughly a quarter of the remaining uninsured population is outside of the reach of the ACA due to immigration status or state Medicaid expansion status. The report concludes that the remaining uninsured may be difficult to reach, citing misperceptions about cost, lack of awareness of financial assistance and confusion about eligibility as barriers to reaching this population.

New Features on Healthcare.gov to Simplify Plan Selection Process
As the third open enrollment period begins on Nov. 1, healthcare.gov is undergoing a makeover. The updated site will feature new search tools allowing consumers to type in their doctors, list of prescriptions, and/or preferred hospitals to see which plans cover them. Until now, consumers using healthcare.gov generally had to visit the website of each insurer to see which doctors and hospitals were in its network and which drugs were on its list of preferred medications. This information was often outdated or inaccessible, deterring many from enrolling in certain plans. Now available directly on healthcare.gov, this new feature is designed to streamline enrollment and provide consumers with information to select plans best suited for them. To prepare for open enrollment and connect with a navigator organization in your state, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Uncertain Future for the ACA Cadillac Tax
The purpose of the Cadillac tax is to reduce health care spending by addressing a long-standing, unlimited tax deduction for high cost employer-sponsored health insurance. Beginning in 2018, this provision of the ACA will tax employer-based plans at 40 percent for costs over $10,200 for individual and $27,500 for family coverage. According to projections from the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 26 percent of employers will be affected by the tax in 2018, rising to 42 percent in 2028. The intention is that as the tax phases in, employers will respond by seeking out more cost-efficient coverage for their employees. The tax is projected to raise $91 billion over the next decade, which will help pay for the ACA health insurance expansion. The Cadillac tax also addresses the inequity created by the current deduction, which is subsidized by poorer individuals, including many women, working in jobs without employer-sponsored health insurance. Nevertheless, the provision is unpopular and bipartisan efforts are under way in Congress to repeal the tax.