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Washington DC Update 2/9/22
“Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it.” – Rebecca Johnson

The Budget: Let’s hope that Congress is doing a lot of talking about the weather AND budget! As the February 18th deadline for the temporary spending bill (“continuing resolution”) is set to expire, the appropriators have introduced another short-term government funding bill (text; summary) that will extend negotiations for the FY22 budget until March 11, 2022. Although these negotiations have been ongoing since October 2021, they are reportedly “very close to agreement.” It is important to note that this time of year is when discussions begin for budget; so once agreement is reached on FY22, discussions will begin on FY23.

Build Back Better Update: Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced that his committee is in the process of crafting an updated reconciliation package, which may include policies on drug pricing, clean energy tax incentives, and Marketplace subsidies to close the Medicaid coverage gap.

New Legislation from HELP committee: Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released draft bipartisan pandemic preparedness legislation. The PREVENT Act works to create a stronger public health and medical preparedness and response system. Some key components include improving the strategy and coordination among our public health preparedness agencies; strengthening supply chain and government stockpiles of medical products, such as masks, drugs, vaccines, and tests; responding to disparities that make public health emergencies harder on at-risk populations and communities; improving public health communication and addressing misinformation; and other public health emergency preparedness concerns.
From the Administration
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Fact Sheet: Celebrating Black History Month 2022

Civil Rights Protections for People with Disabilities: Guidance for Providers
The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued guidance to health care providers on civil rights protections for people with disabilities. The guidance, issued by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, makes clear that in light of the continuing public health emergency, when resources can be scarce, it is vital that individuals with disabilities are not prevented from receiving needed health care benefits and services as this violates federal civil rights laws.

HHS clarified that federal civil rights laws apply to health care providers, including those administering COVID-19 testing, medical supplies, and medication. These rules also apply to entities providing hospitalization, long-term care, intensive treatments, and critical care, such as oxygen therapy and mechanical ventilators. Additionally, federal civil rights laws apply to state Crisis Standard of Care plans, procedures, and related standards for triaging scarce resources that hospitals are required to follow.

Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders
On February 3, 2022, Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra swore in 23 members of President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The Commission will advise the President on ways the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Read the Commissioners’ biographies.

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Community Connected Health Initiative: Roundtables
To provide an opportunity for deeper engagement, particularly with community health stakeholders, the White House OSTP is partnering with the Health Resources and Services Administration Center for Innovation (HRSA CFI) to host a series of roundtables. While the roundtable portion will be closed to allow frank conversation, there will also be a livestreamed portion of innovative community health stakeholders giving ‘lightning talks’ on their work. These open sessions will be livestreamed on HHSLive. Click here for registration and more information. The remaining roundtables are:
  • Thursday, February 17, 1-2 PM ET: Innovation in the Community Health Workforce
  • Thursday, March 3, 1-2 PM ET: International Models of Innovation in Community Health
New Issue Brief of Interest: ARPA and Youth Mental Health
new Georgetown Center for Children and Families issue brief summarizes findings from a review of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) home and community-based services (HCBS) state spending plans and narratives and state initiatives to support child and adolescent mental health as part of state plans to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS.

NOTE: This brief provides an opportunity to track where ARPA money goes in your state and how to connect to parter in the initiatives. Also, consider exploring the following dashboard which indicates all of the MCHB grants awarded grants in your state: Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Awarded Grants (hrsa.gov)

More on Youth Mental Health: Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) is a specific kind of mobile crisis service and stabilization service for children and youth with behavioral health conditions. It is an upstream intervention for children and youth that are beginning to experience an acute behavioral health issue and are in crisis. This fact sheet from National Health Law Program (NHeLP) discusses the evidence-base for MRSS as well as children’s right to access MRSS via Medicaid. It concludes with recommendations for concrete steps advocates can take to ensure that children can access MRSS when and where they need it.
Important Blog Post: Public Health Emergency Unwinding & Text Messaging
Here is a great blog post from our friends at Manatt Health that provides very tangible authorities and strategies suggesting how state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies can develop their strategies for unwinding the federal Medicaid continuous coverage requirement under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FCCRA) with text messaging as a mechanism for outreach.

ICYMI: On January 14, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), effective January 16. If this renewal remains in place for a full 90-day period, it would expire on April 16, 2022.

Related communication preference reports: The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) recently released two reports on member communications. The first report, Beneficiary Preferences for Communications Regarding Eligibility, Enrollment, and Renewal, emphasizes that members prefer having multiple modes of communication available during eligibility, enrollment, and renewal processes. The second report, Beneficiary Experiences with the Medicaid Enrollment and Renewal Processes, includes insights from focus groups with Medicaid members on preferred options for enrollment, renewal, and communications. 
Webinar of Interest
Centering Health Equity in Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations
Tuesday, February 15, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm ET
Hosted by State Health and Value Strategies

Many states are looking to Medicaid as a critical lever for advancing health equity, and states have multiple tools and authorities in Medicaid to advance health equity through coverage and benefit policy, delivery system and payment reform, and innovations that impact social drivers of health. States seeking to test new or innovative ideas related to health equity in their Medicaid programs are tapping Section 1115 demonstrations as one key strategy.

State Health and Value Strategies is hosting a webinar during which experts from Manatt Health will provide an overview of Medicaid’s role in promoting health equity and ways states can advance health equity and address structural racism throughout the Section 1115 demonstration lifecycle, from planning to implementation to monitoring, and evaluation. Presenters will highlight specific strategies in two forthcoming publications, Centering Health Equity in Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations: A Roadmap for States and Centering Health Equity in Medicaid: Section 1115 Demonstration Strategies. The webinar will include a question and answer session during which webinar participants can pose their questions to the experts on the line.

Equity Materials of Interest
Updated Report of Interest: Medicaid Managed Care Language to Further Health Equity
The compendium, Medicaid Managed Care Contract Language: Health Disparities and Health Equity, provides examples, from 17 states and DC, of how different state Medicaid agencies are leveraging their managed care programs, inclusive of contracts, quality initiatives, and procurement processes, to promote health equity and address health disparities. Many states are turning their attention to their managed care programs to address persistent health disparities and the conditions that create health inequities for Medicaid enrollees. Agencies are directing managed care to: stratify data to identify health disparities, report on health disparities and strategies to promote health equity, and report on health disparities and strategies to promote health equity.

Explore a variety of Equity Fact Sheets from the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities National Training Center

From Manatt Health: Ten Health Care Imperatives for the 2020s: Navigating Through the Surges includes a great summary, infographic, and link to a longer report with more detailed strategies.
Policymakers Bridging Gap to Palliative Care
This publication from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) highlights ways in which state policymakers and partners can educate about and promote Palliative Care.
Disability Policy Seminar 2022
Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) is a three-day event where passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field come together and learn about key issues that affect them. It is sponsored by several disability organizations. DPS will take place from March 28-30, 2022. There are options to participate either virtually or in-person in Washington, D.C. Registration costs are the same for both options. Registration is open.

Thank you for subscribing to the Washington DC Update newsletter. Please feel free to contact the Family Voices Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Cara Coleman, with any questions. Past issues of the Update appear on the Family Voices website. If you wish to unsubscribe, you can do so via the "Unsubscribe" link below.

Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families--including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity--in order to improve healthcare services and policies for children.