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Policies for Consideration at 2023 Legislative Summit
The NCSL Standing Committees will consider over 40 positions on state-federal issues, including online child privacy, autonomous vehicles, voter registration list maintenance, energy security and more. Read more.
NCSL Helps Defeat Amendment Threatening Essential Air Service
The House of Representatives approved a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, 351-69. The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act included several controversial amendments that threatened to derail the bipartisan bill, but most were voted down. NCSL was active with its intergovernmental partners in defeating an amendment, led by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), that would have struck authorization for the Essential Air Service program. The Senate has yet to consider its own legislation, S 1939, but both chambers will have to resolve any differences by Sept. 30, when the current FAA authorization ends. Read more.
State and Local Health Care Providers to Play Important Role in Bridge Access Program
As the federal COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program winds down in the fall of 2023, the Bridge Access Program will provide free COVID-19 vaccines for the nearly 30 million Americans without health insurance, or whose insurance does not provide coverage for the vaccines. The program will operate through the end of 2024 and state and local health departments and health centers will play an important role. For most Americans with health insurance, COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be free.
The program will operate as a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and provide implementation funding, and state and local health departments, which will distribute vaccines to their community provider networks and to federally qualified health centers. Additionally, the CDC is negotiating with several national pharmacy chains and vaccine manufacturers to provide access to free COVID-19 vaccines for uninsured and underinsured people at participating retail pharmacy locations in areas of low vaccination access. Read more.
988 Lifeline Marks One Year
In the one year since the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) went live for all landline and cellphone users, the hotline has received close to 5 million contacts (an increase of 2 million contacts from the previous year), 1 million of which were answered by the Veterans Crisis Line and 665,000 of which were in the form of text messages.
The lifeline comprises a nationwide network of over 200 state and local call centers. Average time to respond to a lifeline contact was 41 seconds—a decrease from two minutes and 39 seconds the previous year, though answer rates vary widely by state. New for the coming year include Spanish text and chat and specialized services for the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, more than $200 million in grant funds for states, territories and tribes was announced in May with a focus on recruitment and retention, technology upgrades, support for high-risk populations, cultural competence and follow-up programs.
While the federal government made initial investments to help states with 988 implementation, primary responsibility for ongoing funding lies with state and local governments, and states are looking for ways to do this. One strategy that has gained growing interest is the use of telecom fees. Eight states have passed legislation to fund their 988 programs via these fees (two are still awaiting gubernatorial signature), which range from 8 cents to 60 cents.
NCSL will continue to monitor 988 throughout the program’s second year. Read more.