Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 21, Issue 4: 1/28/2008   
Headlines

Advocates Question Economic Stimulus Package

House Unable to Override SCHIP Veto; Extension Bill Remains Law

Quality Early Education Supported by House Committee

Comments on TCM Regulation Due February 4

Join CWLA's Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Advocates Question Economic Stimulus Package

At press time, the President and congressional leaders were close to an agreement on what should be included in an economic stimulus package costing approximately $150 billion. The package is likely to have two main components: tax rebates to families, and tax breaks to businesses.

Last week, CWLA signed onto a letter sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs calling on Congress and the President to target the stimulus to increased aid to state and local governments, as well as several other immediate forms of relief and stimulus, including family tax rebates, extended unemployment insurance, and increased relief through food stamps. In 2001, when the last recession occurred, Congress provided state relief by increasing each state's federal match in Medicaid funding. This funding and the unemployment insurance and food stamp provisions do not appear to be included in the current package, raising questions about how effective it will be.

The debate on tax rebates has revolved around how large that rebate should be and which households should receive it. If it is limited to households that pay federal income taxe,s millions of lower-income and poor families would be left out. These households pay a federal tax, but it is the payroll tax designated for Social Security and Medicare. In addition, these families also pay state and local income taxes in most states. The argument for providing a broader rebate to all middle and lower income families regardless of how much they make or whether they pay a federal income tax is that these families will be more likely to spend the rebates on items they need and put the money back into the economy, as opposed to putting it into savings.

As a compromise, Congress appears ready to agree to rebates that would include lower-income families; in exchange, the Administration would get $70 billion in tax reductions and credits targeted to businesses. Congressional leaders have indicated they want a package completed by the President Day's break in mid-February. Some are projecting the rebate checks will reach households in late spring.

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House Unable to Override SCHIP Veto; Extension Bill Remains Law

The House tried but failed by 15 votes to override President Bush's veto of a compromise, bipartisan bill (H.R. 3963) that Congress passed to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This legislation would have reauthorized SCHIP for five years with enough funding to maintain current enrollment and provide much-needed health insurance to approximately 4 million additional children (H.R. 3963). Congress passed the bill last session, and the President's vetoed it December 12. Congress had passed an earlier five-year reauthorization bill (H.R. 976), but it, too, was met with a presidential veto, which members were unable to override.

SCHIP programs exist in every state and insure more than 6 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and those who are either not offered or cannot afford private coverage. Many members of 110th Congress placed reauthorizing and improving SCHIP at the top of their agendas, and some vow to keep broaching the issue during 2008. In the meantime, Congress did pass and the President signed into law P.L. 110-173, extending SCHIP through March 31, 2009, with sufficient funding to maintain current enrollment and avoid shortfalls. This law also contains a six-month moratorium on the proposed Medicaid Rehabilitation Services regulation.

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Quality Early Education Supported by House Committee

Early education was the subject of the House Education and Labor Committee's first hearing of the year on January 23. Every member of the panel of witnesses agreed that investing in early education improves outcomes for children. Recent research on brain development was presented by Deborah Phillips, Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at Georgetown University. Her research demonstrates that quality early experiences, such as child care and preschool, influence the development of children's brains and produce gains in their abilities continuing to young adulthood.

CWLA has long supported better wages for child care providers, an idea supported by the panel and many committee members. Elisabeth Chun, Executive Director of the Hawaii Good Beginnings Alliance, encouraged the committee to strengthen training and continue providing loan forgiveness for early childhood educators and caregivers. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) suggested the minimum wage earned by most child care workers was not appropriate for the importance of their work.

Acting Committee Chair Mazie Hirono (D-HI) has introduced legislation amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to create a federal-state partnership to encourage the development of quality preschool programs (H.R. 3289).

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Comments on TCM Regulation Due February 4

The public comment period on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS's) interim final regulation on Medicaid case ,anagement and targeted case management (CM/TCM) ends February 4.

The regulation is an attempt on CMS's part to interpret and implement Congress's changes to CM/TCM housed in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA). CWLA feels strongly the regulation exceeds congressional intent and threatens the future of CM/TCM for children involved with our nation's child welfare and foster care systems. We urge all interested and afffected stakeholders to submit comments to CMSbefore the February 4 deadline.

CWLA will also be submitting its concerns to CMS. The entire interim final regulation can be downloaded online. To assist in understanding the regulation's content, CWLA's succinct summary is online.

Taking into account the vulnerability and complex needs of children in foster care--including health needs--at least 38 states employ the Medicaid TCM option to ensure a comprehensive approach and greater coordination of care for foster children. Children in foster care who receive TCM services do, indeed, fare better. Specifically, TCM recipients are more likely to receive physician services (68% compared with 44%), prescription drugs (70% compared with 47%), dental services (44% versus 24%), rehabilitative services (23% versus 11%), inpatient services (8% versus 4%), and clinic services (34% compared with 20%).

Although the DRA said states could no longer bill Medicaid CM/TCM for direct delivery of foster care services, such as making adoption placements, recruiting foster parents, and serving legal papers, CMS's proposed regulation appears to go far beyond congressional intent on numerous fronts. For instance, the regulation vaguely disallows Medicaid reimbursement for TCM services that are deemed "integral to" the administration of another nonmedical program, such as child welfare and child protective services. CMS eludes this exclusion could extend to case management services furnished by contractors to state child welfare and child protection agencies, even if they are otherwise qualified Medicaid providers.

Should you have any questions or need assistance in preparing your comments, contact Laura Weidner, CWLA Government Affairs Health Associate at lweidner@cwla.org.

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Join CWLA's Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

Holding a White House Conference on Children will bring together a cross-section of policymakers, advocates, professionals (including the courts), and families and children directly affected by the child welfare system to create recommendations for policy and change. Much positive change has come from previous White House conferences for children, the last one being held in 1970. CWLA is calling on Congress and the next President to reestablish this important policymaking tradition, and the time to act is NOW.

Your support and involvement with this effort is crucial to its success. As experts in the field, we look to you for your leadership in asking Congress and others to support this important campaign for children.

Sign On in Support

CWLA is calling on members and supporters to sign on in support of a White House Conference on Children in 2010.

Pass a Board Resolution

If your organization requires you to pass a board resolution to officially support such an effort, CWLA has created a sample resolution to assist you in this effort.

Let Congress Know of Your Support

The League encourages you to send your resolutions and letters of support to your Congressional delegation. Without their support, a White House conference is not possible.

In keeping with CWLA's tradition of nonpartisanship, the letter has been sent to all presidential candidates in the two major parties. View the website, read the letter, and sign on to support the campaign.

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CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

  • January 28: President's State of the Union Address
  • February 4: President's proposed FY 2009 budget submitted to Congress
  • February 18-24: President's Day Break
  • February 25-27: CWLA National Conference
  • March15-30: Congressional Spring break
  • April 1: Start of Child Abuse Prevention Month


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