Legislative Update: Budget, Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations

Yesterday, as you know, was Mother’s Day. A week earlier was the second-annual March for Moms on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The proximity of the event to Mother’s Day was intentional.

For several hours on Sunday afternoon, speakers shared their own accounts with near-death experiences or the death of a loved one due to pregnancy-related causes. Several people from AWHONN’s office attended. You may have seen some of the social media posts.

The stories are heart wrenching. I find myself wishing Congress would take action on Maternal Health Accountability Act and the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act so that we can make progress on reversing the rising maternal morality trend so no more stories of maternal deaths will have to be told on the National Mall. If you haven’t yet done so, please call your Senators and Representative and ask them to support S. 1112 and H.R. 1318. And, if they have already cosponsored these bills, a thank-you call is always appreciated. Your call can make a difference.

Seth A. Chase

Updates for Monday, May 14, 2018

Budget and Appropriations
President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget has sent to Congress a request to rescind $15.4 billion in appropriated funds. The request must be approved by Congress, which has 45 days to do so. Authorization for federal agencies to spend the money is on hold until either the 45 days run out or Congress takes a vote on the request. The largest single area the president asks to rescind is $7.0 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program–with $5.1 billion from unspent Fiscal Year 2017 funds that can no longer be spent and the remainder from a contingency account which likely will not be used.

Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations
The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee unanimously approved its Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill last Wednesday. The bill would appropriate $6 billion for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee Meeting
I joined other representatives of the associations in the Coalition for Health Funding last week in a meeting with the staff director for the majority (Republican) Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. From this meeting we learned that the subcommittee hasn’t yet received an allocation for Fiscal Year 2019 from the full Appropriations Committee. The subcommittee cannot begin crafting their bill until they receive the allocation.

The staff director expressed that she does not expect large increases for public health and health research programs–especially with a $500 million hole created by the expiration of 21st Century Cures money for opioids. The Senate will be begin marking up bills at the end of this month–starting with non-controversial bills such as Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The Labor, HHS, Education bill will likely be marked up toward the end of June.

Briefings and Hearings
The Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing May 10 with Secretary Alex Azar on the Department’s the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request.

Coming Up:

  • Today and tomorrow, Jacque will be attending the Task Force meeting on Research Specific to Pregnant and Lactating Women via webinar from the National Institutes of Health. Recommendations from this meeting are used to shape and inform policy.
  • We are soliciting input from AWHONN’s Public Policy Committee and Research Advisory Panel in order to respond to comments due 5/21/18 on draft recommendations for Screening for Intimate Partner Violence, Elder Abuse and Abuse of Vulnerable Adults and Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections.   Public comment can also be made at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/us-preventive-services-task-force-opportunities-for-public-comment. You can also submit your comment to us at [email protected] to be included in AWHONN’s response.
  • On Wednesday, I’ll be attending the Women’s Health Empowerment Summit.
  • On Friday, I’ll be joining Friends of Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program in meeting with Laura Kavanagh, the acting associate administrator for Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Seth A. Chase is the director of government affairs at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

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