Health and Human Services Newsletter | March 2019





From Congress

03/5/2019—The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on “Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks.” Watch the full hearing here. For more on state school immunization exemptions, read NCSL’s webpage here.

03/13/2019—The House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to review the HHS Budget Request for fiscal year 2020. Azar will meet with several House and Senate committees to discuss the budget and related issues including: reductions to certain HHS programs, proposals to reduce prescription drug prices and actions taken by the department related to migrant children.

From the Administration

03/05/2019—President Donald Trump signed an executive order on the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide—PREVENTS Initiative. The order establishes a task force that includes secretaries of Veterans Affairs, Defense, HHS and Homeland Security.

03/11/2019—Trump announced his fisc al year 2020 proposed budget, which includes a 12 percent decrease in overall funding for the HHS budget with some increases in specific programs. Read a comprehensive summary of the HHS budget here. Read NCSL’s summary of the president’s 2020 budget here.

03/11/2019—The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced two new proposed rules on the interoperability of electronic health information. Read a summary of both rules here.

From The States

03/07/2019—Connecticut joined several other states in announcing proposals in the state's ongoing efforts to explore the creation of a public option. Two measures were recently announced that would broaden Connecticut’s health plans to nonprofits and small companies, along with an advisory council to explore what the plans would look like. The plans would provide low-cost coverage to those without employer-sponsored health insurance and meet standards under the Affordable Care Act. The announcement was met with criticism from some pointing to the costs of such an option to not be reasonable for the state.

03/08/2019—Idaho lawmakers have delayed voting on a bill that would have added work requirements to the state’s recently passed Medicaid expansion ballot initiative. A panel of legislators heard from individuals opposed and one in support of the bill. The legislation proposed work requirements align with the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program requirements and allow exemptions for those younger than 18, other caretakers and persons with disabilities.

03/18/2019—The Washington state House passed a measure by a vote of 57-40, that would remove a parent’s ability to claim personal or philosophical exemptions to vaccinate their school-aged children for measles. In light of a recent measles breakout in Washington and several other states, some lawmakers have been concerned about the increasing rates of measles and mumps infections, while others shared concerns to respect a family’s personal decisions for their children’s health. The Washington Senate is set to vote on the bill in the next several days.

From the Courts

03/12/2019—In a majority ruling in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, it was ruled that Ohio can reduce its funding to Planned Parenthood. The decision overruled a lower court rule that blocked the state from removing around $1.5 million in annual funding.

Spotlight On:

02/28/2019—NCSL’s podcast, "Our American States," recently released an episode titled “Child Support Changes Result in Strong Families.” Listen to the full episode here.

03/11/2019—NCSL hosted a webinar, Health Care Waivers: 1332 State-Relief and Empowerment Waivers. View the webinar here.

Funding Announcements

03/06/2019—The Health Resources and Services Administration announced a new funding opportunity, the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. Under the program, 75 awards of up to $1 million will be issued. Read the full grant announcement here.

03/07/2019—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 13 grants for a total of $30 million to research effective strategies for state, community and system-level work on opioid overdose prevention. Read the full grant announcement here.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House, and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.