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 Legislative & Policy Corner

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act passes House Committee on Energy and Commerce
On June 16, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. This legislation would authorize grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for infant and early childhood mental health programs as well as education programs for mental health clinicians who work with children. It would also authorize grants for child and adolescent psychiatric telehealth services and the integration of social, educational and health services for children with serious mental health needs. The bill awaits action by the House.

Health Reform Implementation

CMS Announces $32 Million to Increase Number of Children with Health Coverage
​The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it will provide $32 million in awards to help 38 community organizations in 27 states enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign. These awards are designed to build on the historic progress that has already been made in increasing the number of children who have quality, affordable health coverage. States receiving funds include: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. For more information about individual awardees, click here. To learn more about the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, visit

CMS Announces $22 Million in ACA Funding for State Insurance Departments
​The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the availability of $22 million in funding to state insurance regulators to use for issuer compliance with Affordable Care Act key consumer protections. This award opportunity enables states to seek funding for activities related to planning and implementing select federal market reforms and consumer protections in areas that include: essential health benefits, preventive services, parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits, appeals processes and the cost of health care coverage.

HHS Awards $156 Million to Health Centers to Expand Oral Health Services
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced nearly $156 million in funding to support 420 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to increase access to integrated oral health care services and improve oral health outcomes for patients. This funding enables health centers to expand integrated oral health care services and increase the number of patients served. With these awards, health centers across the country will increase their oral health service capacity by hiring approximately 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, aides and technicians to treat nearly 785,000 new patients. For more information on the importance of oral health for pregnant women and children, visit the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.

Gains Cited in HHS Report, "The Affordable Care Act: Promoting Better Health for Women"
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistance Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) has released a new report focusing on improvements in access, affordability and quality of care for women since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The report highlights key transformations in women's health care, including a 44 percent reduction in the number of women ages 18 to 64 living without health insurance. The full report is available here.

CMS Releases Guidance to Increase Access to Family Planning Services and Supplies
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance encouraging states to offer all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods through Medicaid and proposing actions that would eliminate existing barriers to accessing same-day, long-acting retroactive contraception (LARC) methods. (This guidance supplements LARC utilization strategies highlighted in a recent informational bulletin.) CMS also clarified that family planning services and supplies are eligible for a 90 percent federal match regardless of the type of medical visit (such as an annual physical exam) if the purpose of those services is to prevent or delay pregnancy. The full guidance can be access here.