Health and Human Services Newsletter | November 2018


From Congress

11/07/2018 – The House and Senate continue negotiations to reauthorize the Farm Bill. Earlier this month, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (D-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) made a joint offer to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Details of that offer were not made public, but reports say it addresses stricter changes that were proposed on work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that were in the House bill. House SNAP requirements faced unanimous opposition from House Agriculture Committee Democrats as well as from Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to push for passage of the bill before the end of the year.

11/27/2018 – Legislation that passed in the House to overhaul the regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and other legislation that would reauthorize Health and Human Services’ (HHS) response to disasters including biological or chemical threats and emerging infectious disease are being held up in the Senate. Legislation related to over-the-counter drugs regulation was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) but has been put on hold by Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Burr has expressed concern that the bill would make major changes to OTCs regulations for the first time in decades and could create unexpected user fees. In response to this hold, Isakson has put a hold on Burr’s sponsored bill on the reauthorization of HHS’ response to disasters and biological threats. Both bills are pressing against the end of the lame duck session.  

11/29/2018 – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a markup on a series of health and human services legislation including; S. 2076 the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, H.R. 6615 the Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act of 2018, H.R. 315 the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act; and, S.3482 the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program Reauthorization Act of 2018. As Congress negotiates a budget deal as the Dec. 7 deadline approaches, HHS bills like these could be included in the final package.

From the Administration

11/01/2018 – November is National Adoption Month. Over the past eighteen years the Children’s Bureau, an office within the Administration for Children and Families has supported a website to provide readers with adoption resources. Some of the resources include stories from youth on their experiences with foster care and adoption. 

11/15/2018 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced restrictions on the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette products and is proposing a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The only flavors of e-cigarettes that will be for sale will be tobacco, menthol and mint. In addition, e-cigarettes will be restricted to being sold in gas stations and convenience stores. The announcement is part of ongoing efforts by the FDA to make e-cigarettes less attractive to young people. 

11/17/2018 – The enrollment period for the 2019 individual market health coverage began Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. Plans and prices offered for 2019 are available.  As of now, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reported that 1.9 million people have signed up for the plans so far this year, which is down from the 2.3 million people that had enrolled at this point last year. The numbers don’t account for enrollment through state-run insurance marketplaces.

From The States

11/21/2018 – Kentucky has been approved for a new Medicaid work requirements waiver. The state had a Medicaid work and community engagements requirement waiver approved earlier this year but it was challenged in court, where a federal judge ruled the work requirements were not in line with Medicaid statute A new comment period was opened to re-adjust the waiver and to ensure Kentucky’s Medicaid work and community engagement requirements were compliant. Under the new waiver, enrollees must report on job-related activity or work for at least 80 hours a month. The state will start phasing in the requirement in April.

From The Courts

11/27/2018 – Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) was ordered by a state judge to begin the implementation of the Medicaid expansion that was approved by a ballot measure in 2017. The judge said the state failed to prove that the expansion could not be financed to provide expanded Medicaid coverage to 80,000 low-income residents. The judge gave the state until Dec. 5 to comply. Since the original ruling, the Maine Department of Health and Human services has requested a stay on the judge’s order.

Spotlight On:

Curious about recent immigration news?

Read more about the proposed changes to the Public Charge Rule and the Flores Settlement Agreement.

Check out NCSL’s coverage of midterm election outcomes, including legislative control and ballot initiatives, in StateVote 2018.

2018 NCSL Capitol Forum

Registration for the NCSL 2018 Capitol Forum is open. This year’s Forum will be held Dec. 5-7 in Washington, D.C. To read the HHS Committee session programming, visit the 2018 Capitol Forum web page.

For more information on NCSL’s Health and Human Services Standing Committee State-Federal Affairs activities, please visit our website, or email Haley Nicholson.

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.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584| Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell | 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health and Human Services
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education