Federal Update

Update: Momentum is Rising in the U.S. Senate to Move on Health Care; Call your Senators!

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled that Senate Republicans are getting closer to unveiling their version of a health care reform bill. Although no details have been released, rumors are that the Senate Republicans may have decided to move forward with fundamentally changing how the Medicaid program is financed by the federal government.

Currently on the table is the House-passed funding formula for Medicaid. The House-passed bill cuts $880 billion from Medicaid through the state’s choice of per capita caps or block grants. It also rolls back the Medicaid expansion (review the provisions in the House-passed American Health Care Act). These proposed changes, as well as the proposed changes made in the Trump budget, would fundamentally change the Medicaid program. By changing how the federal government pays for the Medicaid program, the federal government is set to save billions, however the implications for Medicaid beneficiaries of all ages, the social sector, and local and state budgets are significant.

What can you do?

  • Email the Alliance’s Office of Public Policy and Mobilization. We will support your efforts to engage with us to reach your senators’ offices and can develop an advocacy toolkit with state-specific resources and statistics.
  • Call your senators next week and underscore the following points:
    • I want to express my deepest concern about the implications for the House-passed proposed changes to how the federal government finances the Medicaid program. Changing the way in which the Medicaid program is financed by the federal government, from an entitlement to a per capita cap or block grant structure, would result in potential loss of millions to our state budget.
    • At a minimum, the Senate should have public hearings so we can be made fully aware of the impact that changes to the Medicaid program will have on our state and community.
    • In any legislative measure that impacts our country’s health care system, I am looking for a net positive impact on all populations served by Medicaid in our state, as well as for our local and state economies.

Children’s Health Insurance Program Hearing Scheduled for June 14

Earlier this week, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) indicated that he would like to see the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) extended for a period of two years, until 2019. The Alliance supports a five-year extension of the program, aligned with the recommendations of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission (MACPAC), a non-partisan federal advisory agency.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which has jurisdiction over the CHIP program, will be hosting a hearing that examines “the extension of safety net health programs.” Per the press release, this hearing will include a focus on extending CHIP funding. Federal funding for CHIP is set to expire in September, at the end of the federal fiscal year. The hearing is scheduled for June 14 at 9:15 a.m. CT. Mark your calendars and tune in to the live webcast!

House Ways and Means Introduces Legislation Reauthorizing Home Visiting

On June 8, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced legislation reauthorizing MIECHV for five years at $400 million annually. The Alliance supports a five-year reauthorization with funding increases that reaches the funding level of $800 million per year. Read Chairman Brady’s (R-S.D.) press release and bill summaries.

Price Hearing on President’s Budget in a Nutshell: It’s not how Much We’re Spending, We Need to Improve Outcomes

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Sec. Price testified on President Trump’s budget proposal before the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. Sec. Price began his testimony stating that “President Trump’s budget request does not confuse government spending with government success. The President understands that setting a budget is about more than establishing topline spending levels. Done properly, the budgeting process is an exercise in reforming our federal programs to make sure they actually work—so they do their job and use tax dollars wisely. The problem with many of our federal programs is not that they are too expensive or too underfunded. The real problem is that they do not work—they fail the very people they are meant to help.”

No details were given on how to improve program outcomes, except to say through more state flexibility. He also gave no specific response regarding the impact of massive funding cuts, whether for Medicaid or the National Institutes of Health. Review Secretary Price’s written testimony for the House (it is identical to the Senate testimony).

Toolkit for Protecting and Expanding Charitable Tax Deduction

This year, Alliance President and CEO Susan Dreyfus serves as chair of Leadership 18, a coalition of some of the nation’s largest and most influential human services nonprofits. With comprehensive tax reform currently under debate in Congress, Leadership 18 recently launched an advocacy effort to strengthen and expand the charitable deduction to incentivize more Americans to give more in support of their communities.

This is an important issue for our sector as new research shows that current tax reform proposals could decrease charitable giving by an estimated $13.1 billion annually. We encourage you to use this toolkit, which includes a number of resources such as talking points, press release, letter to the editor, op-ed, and social media posts, to make your voices heard on this important issue. The toolkit was created by Independent Sector and Leadership 18, and is designed to help you connect directly with policymakers and their staff to make the case for extending the charitable deduction to 100 percent of taxpayers.

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