Congressional Corner

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Aug. 10, 2017

Federal Appropriations Update 
On Aug. 7, the House Rules Committee announced its intent to consider in September the remaining eight FY18 appropriations bills attached to the already passed minibus. The eight remaining bills include: agriculture, commerce-justice-science, financial services, homeland security, interior-environment, labor-HHS-education, state-foreign operations, and transportation-HUD. The bills can be found here.

When Congress returns from the August district work period, there will be 12 working days remaining before the end of the fiscal year and, at this point, it is unclear whether Congress will finish their work. Many budget experts anticipate that Congress will need to approve a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running while they consider the FY18 appropriations bills. 

Healthcare Reform and Legislation
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires at the end of September. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, a nonpartisan commission, estimates that states will begin to exhaust federal funding in December. This is difficult for states, due to the need to provide proper notification to families if funding is going away. ASTHO will continue to monitor. 

Following the Senate’s failure to pass healthcare reform legislation, President Trump continues to discuss the possibility of ending the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies that provide extra support to low-income consumers who purchased health insurance on the marketplace. This messaging continues to unsettle insurance markets as they plan for the next coverage year. 

Regulations and the Administration
President Trump met with HHS Secretary Tom Price this past week to receive a briefing on the draft report issued by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. One of the commission’s suggestions is that the opioid epidemic should be declared a national public health emergency.

In response, ASTHO prepared a deskside briefing for media and press on state emergency declarations related to the opioid crisis. Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s chief of health security, shared perspectives on federal regulations related to emergency declarations. ASTHO members Rahul Gupta (SHO-WV), Cara Christ (SHO-AZ), Jay Butler (SHO-AK), and Marissa Levine (SHO-VA) shared their state experiences. Media participation included: NBC News, Kaiser Health News, AP, Politico, The Guardian, and STAT News. An article in The Guardian included remarks from Jay Butler, and NPR published a story including Cara Christ’s remarks on Arizona’s approach. For a recording of the briefing, please contact Jane Esworthy, senior director of public relations. 

Sign-On Letters
ASTHO signed onto a letter thanking Sen. Blumenthal as well as the senators who cosponsored his motion to commit to prevention during a recent health reform debate and vote in the Senate.

In addition, ASTHO signed onto a letter urging Congress to act as soon as possible to address expiring safety net priorities, including community health centers, CHIP, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and the National Health Service Corps.