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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Congressional Action on Zika Proceeding Slowly
The House and Senate appointed members of the conference committee that will work on melding two proposals to fund Zika preparedness and response. The Senate passed $1.1 billion in emergency spending for Zika activities, while the House passed a $622 million package that expires Sept. 30 and cuts in with other public health funding. The two chambers must work out their differences and pass a single bill to send to the president. Leading senators have said they are committed to passing a bill before July 1. AMCHP continues to advocate for emergency spending to combat Zika and most recently joined several partner organizations in sending this letter to the members of the conference committee urging swift action.

Key Senate Committee Proposes to Boost Title V Funding by $3.5 Million
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY17 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill last week.  We are happy to report that the proposed funding for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant is $641,700,000 – an increase of $3.5 million from FY16.  The $3.5 million increase is specifically directed to Special Projects of Regional and National Significance.  In describing the increase, the committee directs the Health Resource and Administration to fund a study related to child health and development in states with high child poverty rates.  The full bill can be found here; the Maternal and Child Health Bureau section begins on page 48.

Health Reform Implementation

CMCS Bulletin on Medicaid Benefits and Zika Virus
On June 1 the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) issued an informational bulletin on Medicaid benefits and the Zika virus. The bulletin informed Medicaid agencies about the flexibilities in the Medicaid program that allow for the prevention and detection of and response to the Zika virus. Under the prevention heading, for example, the bulletin says Medicaid programs may cover mosquito repellents when prescribed by a health professional, and the products would be eligible for Federal Financial Participation (FFP). States may also offer counseling on family-planning and safe sexual practices to reduce transmission. Additional flexibilities under prevention, detection and treatment of the Zika virus are available here.

Children's Health Care Coverage
A new paper by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families addresses the changes needed for the Health Insurance Marketplace to meet the health care needs of children. This paper reviews benefits on the Health Insurance Marketplace and provides policy options to improve adequacy of coverage. Adequate insurance coverage for children is a National Performance Measure that some states selected in their Title V Block Grant applications. For a primer comparing costs and benefit packages for children between the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Children's Health Insurance Program, see this report by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation under the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

KFF Study Finds Most ACA Enrollees Unaware of Free Preventative Services Provision
A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation 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 says 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 33 percent think that copays or deductibles apply to preventive services, and 20 percent are not sure. AMCHP has several resources on coverage of preventive services for MCH populations. The fact sheets on women's health, children and youth with special health care needs and adolescents provide an overview of ACA coverage for these populations. In addition, The Affordable Care Act: A Working Guide for MCH Professionals provides an overview of overall benefits. Healthcare.gov also lists the preventive services that are covered for adults, women and children under ACA-compliant coverage.