Congressional Corner

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Sept. 14, 2017

Federal Funding Update

Last week the Senate Appropriations committee approved the FY18 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill by a 29-2 vote. Please read our detailed legislative summary and budget update. At this time, it is unclear when or if the full Senate will consider this bill on the floor for a vote.

In addition, Congress approved and President Trump signed into law a short-term continuing resolution (CR) through Dec. 8 to keep the federal government running beyond Sept. 30. It is expected Congress will develop an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government after the CR expires on Dec. 8.

However, the budget environment remains fluid. ASTHO will monitor these developments carefully and update accordingly.

MIECHV Mark Up

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee considered the Increasing Opportunity through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act (H.R. 2824). As drafted, this bill would reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs for five years at the current level. However, this legislation would also require states, territories, and tribes to match MIECHV dollars with their own funds. ASTHO and AMCHP sent a joint letter expressing our opposition to this provision.

The Senate version of the bill has not yet been introduced.

CHIP

On Sept. 12, Sen. Orin Hatch and Sen. Ron Wyden announced a deal that would extend the Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) program for five years, through 2022. Funding is set to expire on Sept. 30. If this happens, states can use leftover funds. However, a policy known as “express lane eligibility” that states use to expedite enrollment would still sunset. It is unclear when the marked up bill will be released. The House held hearings earlier this year, but a plan is not public at this time.

ASTHO will continue to monitor developments.

ACA/PPHF Repeal

On Sept. 13, Senators Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller, and Ron Johnson unveiled legislation to overhaul ACA. This bill includes repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund and includes significant changes to how federal funding is given to states to run health insurance programs. The Senate has until Sept. 30 to approve a healthcare reform bill with a simple majority per reconciliation instructions. ASTHO remains vigilant and will inform our members if this legislation garners traction in the Senate.

Sanders’ Single-Payer Plan Introduced

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his “Medicare for all” legislation yesterday. The bill includes a four-year transition to a national health insurance system that would move all Americans to Medicare coverage.

House Omnibus for Fiscal Year 2018 Passes House, Onto Senate

The House approved the $1.23 trillion omnibus spending package today by a vote of 211-198. The bill would appropriate $621.5 billion for defense and $511 billion for nondefense discretionary spending. This package included the FY18 House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriation bill. The House bill is in violation of the Budget Control Act. If it were to become law, it would trigger across-the-board spending cuts. This is the first time all 12 bills passed the House since 2009. The bill will now move to the Senate, where it is very unlikely to be considered.