October 05, 2012

October 5 Washington Update


Greetings from the home of the excellent Washington Nationals baseball team, which has the ability to unite the Democrats and Republicans!  Congress is on recess so it’s quiet on Capitol Hill, but you can talk to your Members of Congress back home about the need to ensure continued funding for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers.  

Talk to your Members of Congress about the F2F funding bills (S. 2123 and H.R. 4083).  [This section includes new material.] 

To find the names of your Members of Congress and their contact information, go to http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/index.htm.

If at all possible, consider visiting your Members of Congress at their local office or attending a local event while they are at home during recess.  And bring your child(ren)!  Explain how the F2F in your state has helped you and/or other constituents.  Be sure they understand how important the federal funding is to your F2F and the families it helps.  Be clear about the effect on F2F services if federal funding is not extended.

Members and their staffers are particularly interested in knowing whether F2F services can improve health outcomes or save money for families, the federal or state government, or other elements of the health care system.  Thus, you should share any data or anecdotes about cost-savings you can trace to the assistance provided by F2Fs.  An example from a real story shared by an F2F:  An F2F staff person shared her experience with feeding tubes to encourage a mom to manage her child's feeding tube herself.  This saved the Medicaid program a lot of money, since the mother had been going to the ER to get the tube flushed.  (This is also a great story to illustrate the value of having family members on the staff of the F2F.)

As we have said in the past, we are hoping that the F2F funding provision can be incorporated into a larger piece of legislation that is enacted during the lame duck session of Congress or early next year.  There is a distinct possibility that there will be a big budget deal in the coming months, which would provide the type of legislative "vehicle" we need.  The more cosponsors we have on the F2F bills, the greater the likelihood of getting the extension enacted.

Current cosponsors of both F2F bills are listed at the end of this update.  If you haven't done so already, please contact the cosponsor(s) from your state to thank them for their support.  

Medicaid and the Presidential Campaign. This week, Kaiser Health News (KHN) reports on a somewhat exciting development for the program that always plays second fiddle to Medicare:  Medicaid is actually the star of a campaign ad!  In fact, the ad actually refers to the fact that Medicaid "helps parents support children with disabilities."

Kaiser Health News has also published a thorough article outlining how the Medicaid program will be affected by the election outcome and another article providing excerpts related to Medicaid from the recent Obama-Romney debate.  

Essential Health Benefits.  As explained last week, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that all new, non-grandfathered plans in the individual and small group markets, both inside and outside the Exchange, offer a standard package of benefits known as "Essential Health Benefits" (EHB).  The ACA listed 10 categories of benefits that must be included in the EHB package, and  HHS left it up to the states to determine the scope of benefits that will be offered in each category based on one of several types of "benchmark" plans from which the states could choose. 

States were asked to submit their benchmark plan choice to HHS by September 30, but not all states have picked their benchmark yet.   A good article about the EHB determination process and selection of benchmark plans, see http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2012/october/01/essential-health-insurance-benefits.aspx.  For a comprehensive table of each state's selected benchmark plan (or a list of options from which it will choose), see http://www.statereforum.org/state-progress-on-essential-health-benefits.

RESOURCES

Health Insurance Information for Consumers.  In case you missed the news last week, HHS has developed an important consumer tool required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This tool is the "Summary of Benefits and Coverage" (SBC), which is intended to provide standardized, easy-to-understand information about health plan benefits, out-of-pocket costs, and provider networks.  Insurance companies and employers are now required to provide SBCs to consumers/employees, along with a Uniform Glossary that defines insurance and medical terms in simple language. 

The SBCs will include "Coverage Examples," to help consumers compare coverage options by showing a standardized sample of what each health plan will cover for two common medical situations - having a baby and managing type 2 diabetes.

SBCs are now available for consumers in the individual health insurance market and will be available in the future for enrollees in group health plans.


Medicaid State Plan Amendments Needed to Implement the ACA.  The Center for Health Care Strategies has published a table to help states keep track of the various Medicaid State Plan Amendments they must make to conform to the requirements of the ACA.  The table catalogues mandatory and optional provisions that may require amendments, including links to the applicable ACA text, deadlines for approval, and available guidance.   While this tool is intended to help states, it will also be useful to advocates who want to ensure they have input as the state develops its new policies.  The table can be found at http://www.statereforum.org/sites/default/files/rwjf_report_medicaidstateplanamend_updated_9_25.pdf

Brochures & Educational Materials from HHS

Below you'll find brochures and materials related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. For other brochures and resources visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/brochures/index.html.

Ø  ACA Educational PowerPoints

The Top Five Things You Need to Know

Ø  Families with Children (PDF - English 7.27 MBSpanish 1.23 MB)

Ø  Health Care Providers (PDF - English 2.71 MBSpanish  517 KB)

Ø  People with Disabilities (PDF - English 2.56 MBSpanish  930 KB)

Ø  Seniors (PDF - English 11.3 MBSpanish  1.54 MB)

Ø  Small Business Owners (PDF - English 4.22 MBSpanish 646 KB)

Ø  Young Adults (PDF - English 6.56 MBSpanish  919 KB)

 

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While Congress is on recess, we may not be sending a Washington Report regularly, but will send news and resources as they become available.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

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.


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

Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 4/26/2012
Rep Cicilline, David N. [RI-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 2/17/2012
Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] - 3/5/2012
Rep Hanabusa, Colleen W. [HI-1] - 7/18/2012
Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 2/17/2012
Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 3/8/2012
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/20/2012
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 7/9/2012


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


Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] - 6/4/2012 
Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] - 2/17/2012 
Sen Conrad, Kent [ND] - 2/17/2012 
Sen Franken, Al [MN] - 6/5/2012 
Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] - 8/2/2012 
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 3/13/2012 
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [MN] - 5/8/2012 
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 2/17/2012 
Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] - 9/21/2012 
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] - 2/17/2012 
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] - 2/17/2012 
Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] - 9/19/2012

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 and their contact information, 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 home phone number and email address.

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.