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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Congress Recesses for Memorial Day Break Without Agreement on Zika Funds
Last week Congress recessed for a week long break before making any reported progress on finding agreement between the Senate passed $1.1 billion emergency supplemental appropriation and the House passed a $622 million package to address Zika. AMCHP continues to work with in a broad coalition urging Congress to immediately reconcile these different approaches and approve final passage of an agreement providing the Senate level of funding as soon as they return next week. A set of slides from a recent AMCHP call provides an overview of the different funding packages.

Healthy Start Reauthorization Introduced
On May 26, Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), and John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2016.  This legislation would reauthorize the Healthy Start Program through FY2022.  AMCHP is proud to support this legislation and be recognized in the announcement released by the sponsoring Members of Congress.

Health Reform Implementation
HHS Finalizes Rule Banning Discrimination in the Health Care System
On May 13, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities. Under the rule, individuals are protected from discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell noted that the final rule is "a key step toward realizing equity within our health care system" and that it "reaffirms this Administration's commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve." In addition to banning discrimination, the rule also includes important protections for individuals with disabilities and enhances language assistance for people with limited English proficiency. More information is available here.

KFF Study finds Most ACA Enrollees Unaware of Free Preventive Services Provision
A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) examines the coverage rates and satisfaction of consumers enrolled in the non-group health insurance market, including both Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ACA-compliant plans (private plans sold outside of the Marketplace that follow all ACA coverage guidelines). The study highlights that among all consumers with ACA-compliant coverage, fewer than half (47 percent) know that preventive services are covered completely by their plans without cost-sharing, while a third (33 percent) think that copays or deductibles apply to preventive services, and one in five (20 percent) are not sure. Among those in high-deductible plans, KFF founds that awareness of this coverage is even lower, with only 41 percent knowing that preventive services are covered with no cost-sharing. The full study and analysis is available here.

Health Affairs Reports State Variations in Uninsurance Rates More Prominent than Ever
A new analysis from Health Affairs concludes that giving states the option to expand Medicaid has increased the already disparate variation in uninsurance rates among the states. From the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2015, the national uninsurance rate for adults ages 18–64 declined by almost 41 percent, according to the Health Reform Monitoring Survey. Medicaid expansion states saw uninsurance rates for adults cut by more than half; states that did not expand Medicaid saw a decrease of only one-quarter.

Health Coverage Rates Improving for Lower Income Children
A new study from the Urban Institute reports that during 2014, 91 percent of children who were eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were enrolled. In 2013, that figure was 88.7 percent and only 81.7 percent in 2008. Medicaid and CHIP are both federal-state health coverage programs for lower-income residents, but CHIP provides coverage for kids whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Not surprisingly, the biggest coverage increases occurred in states that expanded Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $33,500 for a family of four), likely a spillover effect as adults signed up and learned that their kids were eligible, too. So far 31 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Medicaid expansion.