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March 29, 2013
In this issue:
Do Your Members of Congress Understand Public Health?
Congress is in recess until April 9 for the Easter and Passover holidays. It is important to connect with Members of Congress while they are back home and educate them about public health and the role of your local health department. You can set up a meeting with them and invite them to visit your local health department.
NACCHO also has prepared sample letters to send to Members of Congress about the federal funds that support your department’s activities and how your community will be affected by cuts or has already been affected over the past several years. NACCHO has created a webpage with guidance for at-home advocacy with Members of Congress, including factsheets for your use on a variety of public health issues. Contact information for Members of Congress can be found here (enter your zip code and look for district office information.) Contact NACCHO Government Affairs Director Eli Briggs with any questions.
FY2013 Funding Update
On March 23, President Obama signed the continuing resolution (CR) for FY2013 to keep government programs running through September 30. The Office of Management and Budget has calculated that all non-security departments, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will be subject to an additional 0.2% across-the-board cut to meet the budget caps as set in the CR. This is on top of the across-the-board sequester cuts to programs, projects and activities. The Prevention and Public Health Fund will continue to be funded at $1 billion minus $50 million in sequester cuts. The Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program received an increase of $6.6 billion. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received $40 million for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, including an extra $12.5 million above FY2012. Agencies have 30 days from enactment of the CR to submit operating plans with further details about their program spending to Congress.
FY2014 Funding Update
The President’s budget is expected to be released April 10. NACCHO will provide a detailed analysis of the budget.
Early on the morning of March 23, the Senate passed its budget resolution, laying out an overall plan for FY2014. In the process of voting on a myriad of amendments, the following non-binding health-related amendments were adopted:
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) amendment to increase women’s access to family planning and birth control by mandating employer-provided contraceptive coverage (56-43).
  • Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) amendment to create a deficit neutral reserve fund for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) passed by unanimous consent, with Senators Durbin, Cardin, and Mikulski joining Moran in offering the amendment.
  • Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) amendment to support full funding for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) amendment to address prescription drug abuse.
  • Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) amendment to recognize population health and health equity in health funding.
The budget resolution, while non-binding, lays out the plan for federal spending and provides instructions to authorizing committees as well as the overall allocation for the 12 annual spending bills. The Appropriations Committee leaders can now determine the allocations for each subcommittee to move forward in drafting the FY2014 spending bills.
NACCHO Signs Amicus Brief In Support of NYC SSB Regulations
NACCHO has joined with other national public health organizations in support of New York City's sugar sweetened beverage portion control regulations as a signatory on an amicus brief. The brief was filed with the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court in support of the city's appeal on the judicial decision that invalidated their Portion Cap Rule.
ASTHO Releases State Legislation Resource
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ (ASTHO) State Health Policy Team tracks and analyzes legislation across all 50 states and identify trends and emerging issues impacting public health and state health agencies. Real-time state legislative tracking on select issues is now available on ASTHO’s website.
EPA Announces Fracking Panel
On March 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Leading up to the peer review, the SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner.
GAO Releases Report on PHEP and HPP Grant Awardee Performance
On March 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released “ National Preparedness: Improvements Needed for Measuring Awardee Performance in Meeting Medical and Public Health Preparedness Goals.” The report examined the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and their grantees ability to meet certain preparedness goals. GAO found that while PHEP and HPP grantees are making progress in meeting preparedness goals, CDC lacked a consistent set of performance measures and targets to adequately assess the degree of awardee progress toward meeting PHEP goals and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) lacked a comprehensive performance management system to fully assess HPP awardee progress. GAO recommends that HHS “direct ASPR and CDC to develop objective and quantifiable performance targets and incremental milestones that correspond to the new HPP and PHEP performance measures, against which HHS can gauge progress toward the medical and public health preparedness goals of the cooperative agreements and direct technical assistance, as needed.”
GAO Report Finds Biolab Oversight Gaps
On March 25, GAO released “ High-Containment Laboratories: Assessment of the Nation's Need Is Missing.” The report finds that the U.S. still lacks a way to assess the need for high-containment laboratories and national standards for building and maintaining them. In September 2009 the GAO issued a report noting that the United States lacked an oversight strategy that would periodically weigh the need for more labs. The report focuses on biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) and BSL-4 labs. In its recommendations, the GAO urged the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to periodically assess biodefense research and development needs, including whether the nation has the high-containment lab capacity to meet the demands. It also advised OSTP to explore the need to establish national standards for the labs.
Presidential Bioethics Commission Makes Recommendations on Pediatric MCM Research
On March 19, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released their report and recommendations for pediatric medical countermeasure (MCM) research. The Commission concluded that there would need to be multiple steps taken before pediatric anthrax vaccine trials could be ethically considered.
USDA Prepares Changes to SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program
The Department of Agriculture is preparing regulations for a grant program to replace the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s existing nutrition education program, called “SNAP-Ed,” with a new focus on childhood obesity. As authorized under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program provides grants to states that follow specific dietary guidelines promoting healthy food choices. The grants will serve participants in SNAP, the National School Lunch Program and individuals in low-income communities. Funding for SNAP-Ed was cut by $110 million in the “fiscal cliff” deal in January.
FDA Releases Q&A on New Food Safety Rules
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an updated general Food Safety Modernization Act Q&A to included detailed areas on the two recently released food safety rules – on preventive controls and produce safety. NACCHO is preparing comments on these regulations.
Health Reform Implementation
HHS Releases Essential Community Providers Database for QHPs in Federal Exchanges
On March 27, HHS released a non-exhaustive database of available essential community providers (ECPs) to assist health insurance issuers participating in the Federally-Facilitated and State Partnership Exchanges. ECPs are those who serve predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals as defined in section 340B(a)(4) of the Public Health Service Act and described in section 1927(c)(1)(D)(i)(IV) of the Social Security Act. The database does include select state and local health departments. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use the database of ECPs as the basis for determining whether Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) meet certification standards.
Chart of State Innovation Model Testing States
HHS recently announced the first round of State Innovation Model (SIM) Testing Awards to six states: Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont. These grants, worth between $30 – $45 million for 3 to 4 years will support states’ work on multi-payer payment and delivery system reform. This National Academy for State Health Policy has developed a chart that looks at how selected states are planning to reform their payment methods and delivery system, including payment innovations, primary care medical home requirements and performance metrics.
HRSA and CMS Webinar on Ryan White, ACA, and Eligibility
The Health Resources and Services Administration's HIV/AIDS Bureau is holding the first in a series of webinars about the ACA, “ The Affordable Care Act and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Eligibility 101,” on April 5, 2:30–4:00 pm ET. Dial-in number: 888-458-9977 Participant Passcode – 3895721.
The webinar is jointly hosted with CMS and is designed to:
  • Inform HIV providers and Ryan White grantees of how the ACA helps people living with HIV/AIDS get health coverage;
  • Review new Medicaid coverage options;
  • Review new private coverage options;
  • Outline new enrollment and eligibility verification process; and
  • Provide information about Qualified Health Plans and Essential Community Providers.
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Our Mission
NACCHO's mission is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments.
NACCHO Advisory Groups
NACCHO's Advisory Groups are a great way to get more involved with NACCHO and share ideas with colleagues across the U.S. Applications are being accepted through March 31.
Questions? Suggestions?
Email Eli Briggs, NACCHO Director of Government Affairs
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