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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Senate Appropriations Update
As we reported in the last Member Briefs, the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations bill proposes a $21.7 million reduction to the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, with report language directing a $5,369,000 increase to the state grant portion of the grant and the balance of reductions from the Special Programs of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) line. AMCHP staff continues to collect additional information about the potential impact if this reduction goes through in order to make the case to appropriators. In the meantime, however, we want to also reiterate that the Appropriations process is a long way from over and there is still time to influence the final spending bills for FY2016. As always, we will continue to update you with any new developments.

Health Reform Implementation

Final Rule: Coverage of Certain Recommended Preventive Services without Cost Sharing
On Jul. 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor, and the Department of Treasury finalized two interim rules, one on coverage of contraceptives by religious organizations and another on preventive services coverage generally. The interim rule on contraceptive coverage "establishes an alternative way for eligible organizations that have a religious objection to covering contraceptive services to seek an accommodation from contracting, providing, paying, or referring for such services. These rules allow these eligible organizations to notify HHS in writing of their religious objection to providing contraception coverage, as an alternative to filling out the form provided by the Department of Labor to provide to their issuer or third-party administrator. HHS and the Department of Labor will then notify insurers and third party administrators of the organization's objection so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate payments for contraceptive services, with no additional cost to the enrollee or organization, and no involvement by the organization." (HHS press release, 2015). The final rule further clarifies that closely held for-profit entities will be allowed this same accommodation. The final rules can be found in the Federal Register.

King v Burwell
On Jun. 25, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act. The ruling upholds the availability of premium tax credits to qualifying individuals in federally facilitated marketplaces. This ruling preserves coverage for millions of women and approximately 700,000 children. AMCHP applauds the ruling and issued a statement on the day of.

Mental Health and Role of States
A new report by the PEW Charitable Trusts, Mental Health and the Role of States, seeks to understand the mental health challenges the country faces and the state's role in addressing challenges. This report is intended to help federal, state, and local policymakers working to address the country's mental health challenges to better understand their prevalence, treatment, and funding trends. The report is available here.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Awards
The HHS Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) recently announced more than $85 million in grant funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs. The grants went to nonprofit organizations, school districts, universities among others. The OAH grants support replication of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in communities with the greatest need; increase capacity in communities to serve vulnerable youth, including homeless youth, parenting youth and those in juvenile detention and foster care; fill gaps in the knowledge of what works to prevent teen pregnancy; and test new, innovative approaches to combating teen pregnancy. These awards provide the first year of funding for a five-year grant period. The full press release is available here and more information on awardees can be found here.