March 02, 2012

March 2 Washington Update


WASHINGTON UPDATE 3/2/12

Greetings from Washington.  This week's update will again focus on the F2F funding legislation, and cover a few other items of interest.

F2F funding.  As you know from earlier reports, legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to extend funding for F2Fs for an additional three years - through Federal FY 2015 - at the current level of funding.  Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the House bill (H.R. 4083) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Senate bill (S. 2123).  To find the text of bills, cosponsors (including ones added later), and other information, you can go to www.thomas.gov and search by bill number (it is not possible to link directly to the bill pages).

At this point, you should thank any of your Senators and Representatives who have cosponsored the bills (listed below).  Everyone should contact their Senators and Representatives who have not cosponsored the bills to urge them to do so.  The more cosponsors there are on the bills, the greater the chances that they will get incorporated into a larger piece of legislation and ultimately be enacted.  You can contact your Members through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or find their specific contact information via www.senate.gov and www.house.gov

In the near future we will post a letter on the FV website so that family members you work with can easily urge their Members to cosponsor the bills.

Next week we plan to circulate a letter that other national organizations can sign to express their support for the legislation to extend F2F funding. 

Blunt Amendment.  Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) offered an amendment on the Senate Floor this week to allow all employers, insurers, providers and beneficiaries to deny coverage of any essential benefits or preventive services to which they have a religious or moral objection.  The amendment was inspired by the controversy over whether church-related employers should be required to cover contraception for their employees, but it went beyond that.  The amendment would have meant, for example, that an employer with health-related religious beliefs could refuse to cover blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses), mental health care (Scientologists), or most medical care (Christian Scientists).  Family Voices joined other child health organizations in signing a letter to express opposition to the Blunt amendment.  Yesterday, the amendment failed by a vote of 48-51. 

Health care reform website in Spanish; fact sheets and posters.  The healthcare.gov website is now available in Spanish at http://www.cuidadodesalud.gov/enes/.  Various fact sheets and posters about the Affordable Care Act - aimed at consumers and available in both English and Spanish -- can be found at http://www.healthcare.gov/news/brochures/index.html.   

"Balancing Incentive Program" grant awarded.  Today the administration announced that New Hampshire has been awarded the first grant provided under the Affordable Care Act's "Balancing Incentive Program," intended to help states provide more home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities.  The program allows for an enhanced Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to States that make structural reforms to increase nursing home diversions and access to non-institutional long-term care services.

"Text4Baby.This week the administration announced a partnership with Johnson & Johnson's "Text4Baby," a free national health texting service, to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and CHIP and to provide pregnant women and new mothers free text messages on health care issues.  The HHS press release on this partnership can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120228c.html.

New Medicaid/CHIP resource.  The Catalyst Center this week released a tutorial on Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children with special health care needs, which can be found at http://www.hdwg.org/catalyst/medicaid-tutorial

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As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions.  And don't forget to thank the Members who cosponsored the F2F funding bills.  (See list below.) 

Happy Friday!

Brooke Lehmann, MSW, Esq.
202-333-2770
blehmann@familyvoices.org

Janis Guerney, Esq.
202-546-0558
jguerney@familyvoices.org

NOTE:  Past issues of the Washington update can be found on the Family Voices home page by scrolling down in the "News Feed" section.

Below are the URLS for email forms that can be used to thank cosponsors of the F2F funding bills.  If you prefer, you can call your Member's office via the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.  (If you have a personal relationship with the health legislative assistant, or if you recently contacted them about this bill, you can call or email the staffer directly.) Remember to send emails in your personal or organizational capacity, not as an F2F.

Senators cosponsoring S. 2123:

Kent Conrad (D-ND) www.conrad.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) www.bingaman.senate.gov/contact/
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) www.whitehouse.senate.gov/contact/
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) www.lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/routing.cfm
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) www.snowe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=email

Representatives cosponsoring H.R. 4083:

Jim Langevin (D-RI)  http://langevin.house.gov/contact/
David Cicilline (D-RI) https://cicilline.house.gov/contact-me/email-me
Chellie Pingree (D-ME) http://pingree.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=700&Itemid=8
Michael Michaud (D-ME)  https://michaud.house.gov/contact-me/email-mike
Eliot Engel (D-NY)  http://engel.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=169&sectiontree=3,169
Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)  https://forms.house.gov/norton/webforms/issue_subscribe.htm