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

   
   
Vol. 24, Issue 15: 5/16/2011   
Headlines

Attacks on Medicaid Continue

With Budget Stalled in Senate, House Moves Ahead

Keeping the Promise: Child Welfare and Adoption Advocates Unite

These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Attacks on Medicaid Continue

Last week the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a mark-up on HR 1683, The State Flexibility Act. The bill was originally introduced in response to requests from governors for more flexibility in running their Medicaid programs and to be exempted from fulfilling the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The State Flexibility Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and in the House by Representatives Phil Gringey (R-GA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), would repeal MOE requirements under the 2009 stimulus bill and the ACA. The MOE requirements prevent states from cutting eligibility levels or enrollment, increasing premiums, or making enrollment procedures more restrictive. Currently, any state found violating any of these requirements will risk losing federal matching funding for its entire Medicaid program until the violation is corrected. Eliminating this important requirement will allow states to forgo many of the obligations that were in place under ARRA and ACA without losing matching funds from the federal government.

On Thursday, the subcommittee approved HR 1683, by a vote of 14 to 9. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will save taxpayers $2.1 billion over 10 years. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) offered an amendment that would prevent any state from altering eligibility standards, methodologies, or procedures that apply to individuals under 19 years of age under Medicaid or CHIP to make them more restrictive than the ones in place currently. His amendment, along with two others that would protect pregnant women and those in need of long term services, were all defeated. The bill must now go before the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

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With Budget Stalled in Senate, House Moves Ahead

Two votes on the House-passed 2012 budget resolution and the President's 2012 budget have been postponed in the Senate. The votes are still expected to be held before Memorial Day, but the postponement indicates that the budget process remains in stalemate as negotiations continue in the Gang of Six and between Vice President Joseph Biden and the Congressional leadership. At the committee level, the Senate Budget Committee was also expected to mark up its version of the 2012 budget resolution last week but that mark-up was postponed as well, as Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) continued his participation in the Gang of Six discussions.

While the Senate has been bogged down in negotiations, the House moved ahead with implementing the budget they passed by assigning baseline allocations to each of the subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee. With those baseline allocations set, the subcommittees can begin marking up their annual spending bills. The House plan increase funding for the Defense Department by $17 billion while cutting other agencies' budgets by almost $50 billion below the levels in the recently-enacted fiscal year 201l CR. Of particular concern are the reductions to the Labor-HHS subcommittee baseline, which would be cut by more than $18 billion, a funding level not seen since before 2006. The Labor-HHS bill provides discretionary funding for a number of Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act programs, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, Head Start, child care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and a number of health and education programs targeting vulnerable children and families, so the proposed cuts to this bill in the House are especially alarming. It is unclear when the House will begin moving the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, but House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has set an ambitious schedule and hopes to have passed most of the spending bills out of the House before the August recess.

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Keeping the Promise: Child Welfare and Adoption Advocates Unite

Last week, child welfare and adoptions advocates hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill as part of a landmark national initiative designed to "reshape" adoption in the United States, particularly for children from foster care. Participating organizations included CWLA and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute, Voice for Adoption, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the Center for Adoption Support and Education. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), guest speaker and member of the Congressional Coalition for Adoption, spoke to the role that federal policy plays in addressing the needs of these families.

Keeping the Promise is the report recently published by the Adoption Institute to highlight the critical need for postadoption services to enable children and families to succeed. The report also calls for a reshaping of national priorities and resources to develop and provide such services, and provides a series of recommendations for improving policy and practice.

The participating organizations presented data on the critical need for postadoption services, the consequences of not addressing this need, and their recommendations for the future. Key recommendations included, convening a national leadership task force to shape/promote changes in policy and practice, developing public-private partnerships and dedicated federal funding for postadoption services, ensuring that postadoption services are included in state and local child welfare planning/financing, and funding critically needed research to develop and assess the most effective services.

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These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

As part of the CWLA budget campaign, These Cuts Won't Heal, the Government Affairs Division is hosting a series of members-only webcasts. Tune in today to receive an update on the recent attacks on Medicaid as well as attempts to protect and preserve the entitlement. We will also be asking for your help to get your senators to sign-on to a "Dear Colleague" letter. Take a moment to register to attend this important webinar.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

- May 16 to 20: House recess.
- May 30 to June 3: Senate recess

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