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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Montana Becomes 30th State to Expand Medicaid  
On Nov. 2, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved waivers requested by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock as part of the states proposed Medicaid expansion. "This agreement will bring much needed access to healthcare coverage to more than 70,000 low-income Montanans", U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement. Qualified applicants can begin enrollling immediately for coverage that will begin Jan. 1, 2016. This makes Montana the 30th state, plus the District of Columbia, to extend Medicaid coverage to residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

2017 Essential Health Benefit Benchmark Plans Selected
The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) recently released the list of 2017 Essential Health Benefit (EHB) benchmark plans for each state and the District of Columbia. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires non-grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group markets to cover essential health benefits, most of which are pertinent to MCH populations throughout the life course. To view your state's new benchmark plan as well as a summary of the plan's coverage of certain benefits, supporting plan documents that provide details regarding all plan coverage, limits, and exclusions, and an updated list of state-required benefits, visit the CCIIO website here.

Supreme Court to Hear More ACA Contraception Cases                                                                                                                           
On Nov. 6, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it would hear another challenge to the Affordable Care Act birth control benefit. In June of 2014, the Court ruled in favor of closely-held corporations (defined as five or fewer shareholders owning more that 50 percent of the stock), arguing that these employers cannot be required to pay for contraception for their female employees if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Houses of worship, including churches, temples and mosques, are automatically exempt from this requirement. The new case concerns a second category of institutions: various nonprofit groups such as schools and hospitals that are affiliated with religious organizations. Seven cases have been accepted and will be consolidated into one appeal. The case will be argued this winter or spring and most likely decided by June 2016.

CDC Releases Report on HPV Vaccination Coverage among Female Adolescents                                                                                 
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with a reported 79 million persons aged 15–59 years currently infected with HPV. HPV vaccination is an effective primary prevention strategy that can reduce many of the HPV infections that lead to cancer, and is routinely recommended for adolescents aged 11–12 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report concluding that most female adolescents in commercial and Medicaid health plans are currently not receiving the recommended doses of HPV vaccine by age 13 years. To help address the gaps in coverage and access, the CDC developed resources to help clinicians communicate strong, clear HPV vaccination recommendations.