Child Health Initiatives Extended in Medicare Bill

Health

On March 27th, the House passed, by voice vote, H.R.302: Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (SGR/Doc Fix). And on Monday, Match 31st, hours before the current SGR would expire, the Senate passed the bill. There are a number of health extenders in the bill including the extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at full funding until March 31st, 2015. In 50 states, six territories, and numerous tribes and tribal organizations, the MIECHV program facilitates collaboration and partnership at the federal, state, and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for vulnerable children through evidence-based, voluntary, community-run home visiting programs.

The Express Lane Eligibility option in Medicaid and CHIP was extended until September 30, 2015. Express Lane provides states tools to cover kids whose parents have already demonstrated eligibility for need-based programs with similar income standards. Specifically, under CHIPRA Section 203, states can use technology better and smarter. Express Lane helps states make fast, accurate eligibility determinations – without forcing working parents to jump through needless bureaucratic hoops. It gives states the incentive to improve their data matching systems – a win-win-win for kids, taxpayers, and state budgets.

Additional extenders include Family to Family Health Information Centers until April 1, 2015, and the Pediatric Quality Measures through September 2015.

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers are non-profit, family staffed organizations that help families of children and youth with special health care needs and the professionals who serve them. The program will receive $2,500,000 for the portion of fiscal year 2014 and $2,500,000 for the portion of fiscal year 2015.

The Pediatric Quality Measures received initial authorization for the pediatric quality centers of excellence (seven research centers focused on developing and refining quality measures for kids’ and pregnant women’s care) that expired at the end of September 2013. The centers have enough funding remaining to keep their work going through roughly February 2015. They received $15 million in the SGR bill to continue their work through September 2015.

These extenders mean all these child-focused programs will “live to see another day,” but will need to be funded again in 2015 before their various expiration dates. Efforts to renew them will coincide with CHIP funding reauthorization that comes due in September 2015. Along with CHIP, First Focus will continue our work to maintain these critical child health programs.