November 16 Washington Update
WASHINGTON UPDATE 11/16/12
Greetings from Washington! We hope that those affected by Superstorm Sandy are on the way to recovery. This update will focus on the funding of Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2Fs) and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
F2F Funding. The policy team has been at work during the Congressional recess, striving to get an extension of funding for F2Fs. We hope that you, too, have done what you can to educate your Senators and Representatives about the importance of F2Fs to families and children in your state.
We are still trying to get cosponsors on the F2F funding bills, but equally important, we are trying to get the current Senate cosponsors to communicate to the Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT), that they would like to see the F2F funding extension incorporated into a viable piece of legislation. Candidates for such a legislative "vehicle" include the "doc fix," to prevent a reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians, and legislation to implement any sort of budget deal that is reached in the coming weeks or months.
In addition, this is a good time to focus more on getting House cosponsors, particularly Republicans. We will be contacting those of you who are represented by key Members, but everyone should reach out to their Representatives, as well as Senators, to ask them to cosponsor the Pallone or Menendez bill. Please ask others in your community to do so as well.
You can find see instructions on contacting your Members of Congress at the end of this update, where you will also find a list of current bill cosponsors. If you haven't done so already, please contact the cosponsor(s) from your state to thank them for their support.
Supporting documents are attached:
- A document that you can fill in with information about your state's F2F. This document does not mention the legislation.
- A one-pager about F2Fs that does not mention the legislation (in case you are visiting the Member in your official F2F capacity).
- A one-pager that asks the Member to cosponsor the Menendez or Pallone bill, with background information about F2Fs. (This can only be used if you are not representing the F2F.)
ACA implementation. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had originally told states that they needed to notify the Department by today about whether the state would run its own Exchange, or opt for a "federally facilitated" Exchange or hybrid of the two (partnership model). This week, HHS extended the deadline until December 14. That is also the deadline for states to submit details for running their exchanges should they choose to do so. In case you're not sure where your state stands on this decision, see the map at http://www.statereforum.org/where-states-stand-on-exchanges.
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.
Medicaid waiver process. The current issue of the "Health Advocate," published by the National Health Law Program, discusses the Medicaid Section 1115 waiver process, which has been used by many states to change features of the Medicaid program, often to the detriment of beneficiaries. The article explains ways in which new HHS regulations, effective last April, make the waiver application process much more transparent and inclusive of stakeholder input.
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.
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.)
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.)
Remember: Federal resources may not be used for lobbying activities. Therefore, 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 do not ask them to cosponsor it. You can also refer them to the policy team (contact info below).
Please feel free to call Brooke or Janis (contact information above) if you have any questions.
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