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 Legislative & Policy Corner

AMCHP Hill Day Recap and Next Steps
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Hill Day and Congressional Reception in conjunction with the AMCHP annual conference! We were honored to be joined by five senators and representatives, most notably our honorees Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Menendez (D-NJ). We've gotten some great feedback and welcome your suggestions on how we can improve our Hill days in the future. If you haven't done so already, please let AMCHP staff know how your meetings went by contacting Brent Ewig at bewig@amchp.org and make sure to follow up with any congressional staff with whom you met to thank them and provide any information they requested.

President's FY 2016 Budget Released
On Feb. 2, Pres. Obama released his FY 2016 budget. In case you missed it, here is the AMCHP legislative alert highlighting some key programs including a proposal to level fund the Title V MCH Services Block Grant at $637 million. The next step is for Congress to release its own budget resolution and subsequent appropriations bills, though that process is likely to take several months. In the meantime, AMCHP will begin a series of staff meetings sharing our request of $639 million for Title V with key Appropriations Committee members and other potential MCH champions. Stay tuned for future alerts on how you can make sure your voice is part of this process.

ACE Kids Act Reintroduced
The Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act of 2015 (HR 546/S 298) was reintroduced in late January in both the House and the Senate. This legislation aims to improve care coordination for children with medical complexity on Medicaid by creating coordinated care networks across state lines anchored in children's hospitals. The bill also proposes a new risk-based payment method to be managed by the networks that would align reimbursements with best outcomes. AMCHP is working with the proponents of the bill to better understand its implications and to address some concerns that have previously been raised by our members. Moving forward, we plan to offer opportunities to learn more about this legislation and welcome further input from you. 

Health Reform Implementation

Open Enrollment
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 9.5 million consumers are signed up for health insurance through the Marketplace. Continue being a champion for open enrollment! Open enrollment runs through Feb. 15. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has developed a research-based, consumer-focused website to help direct individuals and families to health care coverage options. The website can be accessed here and shared among networks. AMCHP also has an open enrollment fact sheet for MCH leaders. This resource includes suggested steps for MCH leaders during the open enrollment period. In addition, HHS has developed several resources for specific MCH populations including women, pregnant women, children, and young adults.

2014 Annual Report on the Quality of Care for Children in Medicaid and CHIP
HHS released their annual report exploring several domains and activities in efforts of achieving a high quality system of care for children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health insurance Program (CHIP). The 2014 Secretary's Report presents information on key activities CMS undertook to provide an update on the quality of care children receive in Medicaid/CHIP, including reviewing findings on the Child Core Set and summarizing information on managed care quality measurement and improvement efforts reported in the External Quality Review (EQR) technical reports.

Breastfeeding Support
Dr. Nancy Lee, Director at the Office of Women's Health, wrote a helpful blog post on tips to support nursing moms and introduced a new website on breastfeeding and employer solutions. This website has lots of helpful information and resources. The ACA requires many employers to provide reasonable break time and a private (non-bathroom) space for nursing mothers to express breast milk during the workday for up to one year after the child's birth and requires qualified health insurance plans to cover breastfeeding pump rental or purchase at low to no-cost sharing. AMCHP developed an issue brief highlighting state opportunities and strategies for breastfeeding promotion through the ACA.

New Reports on Loss of CHIP Coverage
Two new reports focus on children in Arizona who lost CHIP coverage. The reports focused on the impacts of the cuts on families and lessons learned for the future. The reports, Children's Health Coverage in Arizona: A Cautionary Tale for the Future of the CHIP, and Living Without KidsCare Insights from Parents of Children Who Lost Their Health Coverage When Arizona Scaled Back Its Children's Health Insurance Program can be accessed here.

Indiana Medicaid Expansion
Indiana has joined 27 states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid under the ACA. The expansion could bring coverage to approximately 350,000 uninsured individuals in the state. Enrollment began immediately after federal approval of the expansion plan for coverage beginning Feb. 1. The approved plan includes two levels of plans for the newly eligible population, both include some premium cost to the insured, the minimum is one dollar. Additionally, there are consequences for those who miss premium payments: for those above 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) there is a six month lock out period and for those below 100 percent FPL, there may be a demotion in plan benefits such as loss of vision or dental services.