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 Legislative & Policy Corner

​​House Subcommittee Approves Critical Spending Bill ​

​On July 12 the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released details on the FY17 spending bill that it passed on July 7. The bill proposes to continue current funding levels for the Title V MCH Block Grant at $638.2 million. While disappointed that this level of funding remains inadequate to meet the needs of MCH programs, AMCHP is pleased that the bill maintains Title V funding rather than imposing cuts, as are proposed to many other public health programs. Within the current level of funding for Special Projects of Regional and National Significance(SPRANS), the bill proposes an additional set-aside of $250,000 for demonstration projects to increase the implementation of integrating oral health and primary care practice. ​

House Passes Bill to Address Opioid Epidemic

On July 8 the House of Representatives passed an agreement on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which reflects a compromise between the House and Senate on initiatives to address the opioid epidemic. Of particular interest to the maternal and child health community, the bill authorizes a range of programs including awareness campaigns; residential treatment for pregnant and postpartum women who have an opioid use disorder; resources to prevent addiction related to youth sports injuries; and demonstration grants to states to carry out comprehensive opioid abuse response programs. Additionally, it requires a report on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and takes steps to ensure states have policies in place, as well as access to best practices, on plans for safe care for infants. The Senate is expected to take the bill up soon.

House Passes Mental Health Legislation

On July 6 the House of Representatives passed HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, by a vote of 422-2. This comprehensive legislation includes several provisions aimed at improving children’s mental health. Measures include authorizing grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for infant and early childhood mental health programs and 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. Sponsors of companion legislation in the Senate are hopeful that body will follow suit soon.​

Health Reform Implementation

Report Finds One in Five Parents of Young Children Were Uninsured in 2014

A new report from the Urban Institute found that the share of parents with young children who did not have health insurance increased from 19.4 percent in 1997 to 22.8 percent in 2013,then fell to 18.8 percent in 2014. Over the years, the uninsurance rate for parents of young children has been consistently higher than the uninsurance rate among all parents, in part because young children are more likely to live in low-income families. The study concludes that more than 11 million parents remained uninsured in 2014.

Urban Institute Report Focuses on the ACA and Fathers

A new report from the Urban Institute examined data from the National Health Interview Survey in order to assess the Affordable Care Act's impact on fathers. The study found an increase in uninsurance among custodial fathers between 1997 and 2013, followed by a decline between 2013 and 2014, with larger reductions found in Medicaid expansion states compared with states that did not expand Medicaid. The study also highlights that more than five million custodial fathers remained uninsured in 2014. ​

CMS Releases March 31 Effectuated Enrollment Snapshot

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that on March 31, approximately 11 million consumers had "effectuated" Health Insurance Marketplace coverage – which means 11.1 million individuals paid their premiums and had an active policy as of that date. Of the approximately 11.1 million consumers nationwide with effectuated Marketplace enrollments at the end of March, about 85 percent, or about 9.4 million consumers, were receiving an advance payment of the premium tax credit (APTC) to make their premiums more affordable throughout the year. Get more information, including a state-by-state breakdown of enrollments and APTCs.

Vermont Becomes the Fourth State to Allow Dental Therapists to Provide Dental Care

Gov. Peter Shumlin was joined by legislators, advocates and dental professionals as he signed a bill into law extending licenses for dental therapists to offer some of the most needed dental procedures, such as fillings and simple extractions. The Oral Health Care for All Coalition has worked for more than five years to bring this solution to Vermont and anticipates that more consumers will now be able to receive care with shorter waiting periods. This change in scope of practice could expand access to pediatric dental care, an essential health benefit mandated by the ACA. ​