October 12 Washington Update
Greetings from Washington! Congress is still on recess until after the election, so it's quiet on Capitol Hill. All eyes and ears are focused on the election campaign. This update includes some links to comparisons of the major candidates' health care proposals, and repeats information about how you can take advantage of the congressional recess to talk to
Members of Congress back home about the need to ensure continued funding for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers.
Comparison of Romney and Obama health care positions. The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation/think tank on health care, issued a comprehensive report on October 2, "Health Care in the 2012 Presidential Election: How the Obama and Romney Plans Stack Up." A shorter press release about the report can be found at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/News/News-Releases/2012/Oct/Candidates-Release.aspx. Governor Romney has not issued a detailed proposal, so the report compares the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obama plan) with policies that Romney has espoused - repealing most of the ACA, encouraging more people to buy health plans in the individual market through tax incentives, and "block granting" Medicaid. The report finds that there would be many more uninsured individuals, including children, under the Romney policies. It estimates that 17.9 million children under age 19 would be uninsured by 2022 under Romney's plan, compared with an estimated 6 million under President Barack Obama's plan to implement the ACA.
As reported last week, Kaiser Health News has 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.
Talk to your Members of Congress about the F2F funding bills (S. 2123 and H.R. 4083).
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.
NOTE: It's better to talk to Members or their staffers in your personal capacity so you can mention the F2F bills. It's okay to say that you work at the F2F, but make it clear you are speaking for yourself. If you are acting in your capacity as an F2F director or staff person, you can talk about the federal funding situation and what will happen without the federal funding, but not suggest that the Member cosponsor the F2F bill. If they ask what the Member can do to help, you can tell them that there is legislation to address the problem sponsored by Senator Menendez (S. 2123) and Rep. Pallone (H.R. 4183), but not ask them to cosponsor it. You can also refer them to the policy team (contact info below).
Please feel free to contact Janis if you have any questions.
Health Insurance Information for Consumers. 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.
- For more information, see http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/rights/sbc/index.html.
- For a sample SBC, see http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/sbc-sample.pdf (PDF - 530 KB)
- For the SBC template, see http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/sbc-template.pdf (PDF - 475 KB)
- For the Uniform Glossary, see http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/Files2/02102012/uniform-glossary-final.pdf (PDF - 139 KB)
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.
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.
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 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.