Congressional Corner

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Nov. 9, 2017

CHIP Reauthorization/Prevention and Public Health Fund

Last week, the House of Representatives approved the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922) by a 242-174 vote. This legislation extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and other programs. H.R. 3922 also cuts the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) by $6.35 billion. A summary of the bill can be read here. This bill now moves to the Senate, where it faces many obstacles due to the controversial offsets. Currently, the Senate bill to extend CHIP funding is bipartisan and does not include using PPHF as an offset.

Legislation Introduced to Raise Tobacco Age to 21

Yesterday, Sen. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Schatz (D-HI), and Rep. DeGette (D-CO) reintroduced the Tobacco to 21 Act (S. 2100 and H.R. 4273). This bicameral legislation would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 nationwide.

ASTHO formally supported the legislation due to its alignment with ASTHO’s tobacco control and prevention statement that includes raising the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21 as a means to prevent youth from using tobacco products. A press release from Sen. Durbin states that: “Research from the National Academy of Medicine shows that raising the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and would result in 4.2 million fewer years of life lost for those born between 2000 and 2019. Currently, ninety-five percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21, making the ages of 18 to 21 a critical period when many smokers develop a lifelong addiction.” 

As of Sept. 15, at least 260 localities have already acted to raise the age to 21, including five states (CA, HI, ME, NJ, and OR), as well as the District of Columbia.

A summary of the bill can be read here.

Senators Submit Request for Third Supplemental Bill

Last week, 28 senators sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget articulating the need for a third disaster supplemental in November. The letter details a request to address the needs of all communities affected in recent months by disasters. Specifically, the letter mentions the need to repair public health, ensure access to health services, address mental health and substance use disorders, as well as access to Medicaid. ASTHO will continue to advocate for the third supplemental to include funding to address the public health needs of states and territories impacted.

FY18 Budget Process

While Congress is largely focused on work related to tax reform, appropriations bills for FY18 remain in the pipeline. The current short-term continuing resolution that funds the federal government expires on Dec. 8.

CMS Announces New Policies for Medicaid Waivers

On Nov. 7, Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced new policies for the Medicaid program, including updates to the 1115 Demonstration Project page on Medicaid.gov, Medicaid Scorecards, and the 1115 Process Improvement and State Plan/1915 Waiver Informational Bulletins. More information can be found here.

Upcoming Hearing

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will host a hearing entitled, “Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” The hearing will take place on Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m. in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building. In addition, the hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website. An archived video will be made available shortly after the hearing concludes.