April 13, 2012

April 13 Washington Update

Greetings from Washington.  Congress is in recess this week, but we have some news from the administration, announcements of an interesting webinar and conference call, and, of course, a status report on the legislation concerning funding of F2F HICs. 

F2F funding bills

As explained earlier, our best bet for eventually getting the F2F funding legislation enacted is to get as many cosponsors on the bills as possible.  Currently, the Senate bill (S. 2123) has six cosponsors (5 Democrats and 1 Republican) in addition to Senator Menendez (D-NJ).  The House bill (H.R. 4083) has nine cosponsors (all Democrats) in addition to Representative Pallone (D-NJ). 

If your Senator(s) or Representative has cosponsored the legislation, please take a moment to thank them, either by phone or email.  You can find their contact information by clicking on their names on the list of cosponsors at the end of this update.

We are pleased to report that 22 national organizations have signed onto a letter endorsing the F2F funding legislation.  The letter is attached in Word so that it can be edited for use in getting state partner organizations to endorse the legislation.

Those of you coming to DC for the F2F conference in April:  Please try to make appointments with your Members of Congress to discuss F2F funding.  Instructions for how to make appointments are attached.  We are glad that so many of you were able to join us for the conference call on Tuesday to learn the details of the F2F funding history and outlook.  As promised, we will soon send out materials that you can use to prepare for your Hill visits and share with congressional staffers. 

Everyone:  Please contact your Members of Congress by phone or email to urge them to cosponsor the Menendez-Pallone legislation.  See guidance at the end of this update or click here now to send a pre-drafted letter to your Representative.

Expanded "Compassionate Allowances" list for Social Security Disability

This week the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the addition of 52 new Compassionate Allowances conditions that qualify for expedited decisions about disability benefits.   Several of these are pediatric conditions.  The agency's press release, including the conditions newly added to list, can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/compassionate-allowances-0412-pr.htm.  Online information about children's applications and appeals of denials can be found at http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/child.htm.

Catalyst Center webinar on its "Medicaid/CHIP 101" Tutorial

The Catalyst Center is hosting a 5-part (free) webinar series to provide an overview of its newly released Medicaid/CHIP 101 Tutorial, Public Insurance Programs and Children with Special Health Care Needs: A Tutorial on the Basics of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The first webinar, to be held on Wednesday, April 18 from 1-2:00 ET, is called "What is the Medicaid/CHIP 101 Tutorial and What's In It for Me?"

You can register at http://www.hdwg.org/catalyst/news/2012-04-06/1. The list of future webinars can be found at http://www.hdwg.org/catalyst/news/2012-04-06/1.  If you have questions about the webinar series please contact Meg Comeau.

State partners call on Supreme Court challenge to ACA

The Georgetown Center for Children and Families will host a state partner call on Tuesday, April 17 at 1:00 ET, to debrief on the Supreme Court case about the ACA and to discuss other cases involving Medicaid.  The call-in number is (866) 837-9786.  For some background, see:

"Navigators" in Exchange rules

The ACA requires the insurance Exchanges, to be established by states by 2014, to provide grants to "Navigators" to help consumers enroll in public insurance programs or obtain private insurance policies.  F2F HICs generally meet the criteria to serve as Navigators that are set forth the in the law, but states will have a lot of discretion in selecting their Navigator grantees.  In some states, insurance brokers and agents were lobbying policy makers to require that Navigators be licensed brokers.  A recently finalized federal rule states, however, that states/Exchanges cannot require navigators to be licensed insurance brokers.  In addition, the rule requires that community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups must be one of at least two types of entities that are utilized as navigators.  A recent posting in the blog of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families provides a helpful overview of the regulations.


Hope your Friday the 13th was lucky!  As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Brooke Lehmann, MSW, Esq.

Janis Guerney, Esq.

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

Cosponsors of House F2F funding bill, H.R. 4083, sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ):

Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 2/17/2012
Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Cicilline, David N. [RI-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 2/17/2012
Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] - 3/5/2012
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 3/8/2012
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/20/2012

Cosponsors of Senate F2F funding bill, S. 2123, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez:

Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] - 2/17/2012
Sen Conrad, Kent [ND] - 2/17/2012
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] - 2/17/2012
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] - 2/17/2012
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 2/17/2012
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 3/13/2012

Contacting your Members of Congress about F2F funding bills

All of you who are concerned about the future of F2Fs should contact your Members of Congress to urge that they cosponsor the Menendez or Pallone bill. You can call them through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.  (To find the names of your Members of Congress, go to http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/index.htm.)  When you speak to the receptionist, state that you are a constituent and ask to speak to the staff person who handles health issues.  If that person is not available to talk, you can leave a BRIEF message identifying yourself as a constituent who has a child with special health care needs (if applicable) and asking that the Representative/Senator cosponsor a bill that would extend funding for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers.  Refer to the appropriate bill number and sponsor - in the Senate, S. 2123, sponsored by Senator Menendez; in the House, H.R. 4083, sponsored by Rep. Pallone.  Leave your phone number and email address. (Remember to use your personal contact information, not that of your F2F.)

You can also write to your Representative (even if you call) via the "Advocacy" section of the Family Voices website, where you will find a pre-written letter that you fill in with your personal information.  (You do not need to know the name of your Representative.)  Please ask families you have worked with, friends, and relatives to write their Representatives through the Family Voices website also.  The URL is http://www.familyvoices.org/action/advocate.   At this time, the website is not configured to automatically send the letter to Senators, but simple instructions about how to contact your Senators, and text to copy and paste, can also be found on that page.  (You do not need to know the names of your Senators.)

Remember:  Federal resources may not be used for lobbying activities.

Please feel free to call Brooke or Janis (contact information above) if you have any questions.