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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Zika Emergency Funding Outlook
Last week President Obama submitted to Congress a $1.9 billion emergency funding request to address the Zika virus. The request includes funding for a wide range of activities to prevent, detect and respond to the Zika virus including international assistance, vaccine and diagnostics development and emergency funding to states and US Territories. Of particular note, the request would allow the Department of Health & Human Services to provide services through the Title V Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) and Home Visiting program; expand PRAMS for Zika-related outcomes; and provide additional Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico and other US Territories to provide health services to pregnant women at risk of infection or diagnosed with Zika and for children with microcephaly.  Republican leadership in Congress is pressing for unobligated Ebola funds to be used instead and the President's request allows for some transfer of funds, but the Administration has reiterated that as-of-yet unspent Ebola funding is still necessary to continue building infrastructure to prevent future epidemics.  AMCHP has signed on to public health community letters urging Congress to allocate new money to address Zika rather than repurpose Ebola funding.  We will continue to monitor any action on this issue and update you accordingly.

Congress Continues Tackling the Opioid Epidemic
This week the Senate will begin debate on the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act ("CARA") that would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to tackle the opioid epidemic.  This legislation takes a number of approaches including prevention, treatment and law enforcement. It also includes a pilot program that would provide grants through State substance abuse agencies to support family-based services for pregnant and postpartum women, address gaps in services to pregnant and postpartum women, and encourage family-based programs for women in the criminal justice system. CARA is endorsed by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.

Health Reform Implementation
 
On February 24th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new verification process for health care consumers who enroll in marketplace coverage through a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This Special Enrollment Confirmation Process will affect consumers in Federally-Facilitated Marketplace states, and it will require some documentation for the life changes that trigger the most commonly used SEPs, which include loss of minimum essential coverage, permanent move, birth, adoption, placement for adoption, placement for foster care or child support or other court order, or marriage. This process has not yet been implemented and therefore will not immediately impact consumers. CMS will release specific details including the type of documentation that will need to be provided in the coming weeks. See this factsheet from CMS for more information.