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Legislative Update - green


August 2016

Join us for the Legislative Update call on
Monday, August 8, at 1 p.m. (ET)

APHA's legislative staff will provide an update on
congressional activity and Q&A

Call (800) 442-5794
Passcode: 141930

I. House appropriators pass Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, cutting critical public health programs and blocking ACA implementation
II. Congress adjourns without passing emergency funding to combat Zika virus
III. APHA urges president to rescind barriers to health care for DACA recipients 
IV. Health groups oppose EPA-Interior appropriations bill that would block critical clean air and climate protections
V. Join APHA’s summer advocacy campaign  
VI. Aug. 15 deadline for APHA 2017 Public Health Fellowship in Government
VII. Policy watch: State and international updates

House appropriators pass Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, cutting critical public health programs and blocking ACA implementation


On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill by a party line vote of 31-19. The draft bill and accompanying draft report are available on the House Appropriations Committee website. While the bill would provide additional funding for some programs and agencies, including some programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cross-agency efforts to address the opioid epidemic, increases come at the expense of other important public health programs. 

The bill would block funding for implementing the Affordable Care Act, cut funding for CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health by more than half, continue to stifle federal research on gun violence and eliminate CDC’s climate and health program, among other harmful provisions. It would also cut funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration by $222 million and eliminate Title X family planning, which provides comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services to millions who are least able to afford it. The bill would also cut funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by nearly $54 million. 

APHA issued a statement expressing its disappointment after the vote and urging the House to work with the Senate to develop a bipartisan bill that adequately funds public health and restores cuts to critical public health programs.

Congress adjourns without passing emergency funding to combat Zika virus

On July 14, the House and Senate adjourned for a seven-week summer recess after failing to come to an agreement on an emergency spending bill to combat Zika virus. The U.S. Senate voted for a second time on a Military Construction-VA-Zika appropriations conference report that would have provided $1.1 billion in funding to combat Zika, but the legislation also contained more than $750 million in offsets to other public health programs, including funding for combating Ebola. The bill also contained several contentious policy riders that, according to Democratic lawmakers, would have blocked Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving funding to provide contraceptive services and rolled back certain Clean Water Act protections related to pesticide application, and the final bill also removed a provision that would have barred the display of the confederate flag on veterans’ cemeteries. APHA issued a statement expressing its deep disappointment in Congress for adjourning for the summer without sending emergency funding legislation to the president. In the latest in a series of letters to Congress urging immediate action on Zika funding legislation, APHA and a coalition of other public health organizations sent an August 3 letter to House and Senate leaders urging Congress to come to back to the negotiating table to develop, and then immediately act on, a bipartisan compromise Zika funding bill that can be signed by the president immediately upon their return to Washington after Labor Day. APHA would like to thank the nearly 1,000 APHA advocates who sent more than 2,700 messages to the House and Senate urging immediate action on Zika funding. Your continued advocacy has kept the issue front and center and will be critical again to push this much-needed funding over the finish line when Congress returns in early September. 

APHA urges president to rescind barriers to health care for DACA recipients 

On July 19, APHA sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to restore access to programs under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. The letter comes on the heels of the president’s recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps, acknowledging the significant progress the ACA has made in improving accessibility, affordability and quality care, while also acknowledging that more work needs to be done to further reform the health care system. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in United States v. Texas blocking the president’s executive action on immigration. Recognizing the importance of access to health care, the Department of Health and Human Services originally included individuals that have been granted deferred action as lawfully present for the purposes of determining eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The list of immigration categories considered eligible was later amended by a rule to exclude young people granted deferred action under DACA. Additionally, CMS issued similar guidance to carve out those with DACA eligibility from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the state option. By restoring access to programs under the ACA, and to Medicaid and CHIP, DACA recipients would have a greater opportunity to stay healthy, excel in school and be more productive in the workplace. 

Health groups oppose EPA-Interior appropriations bill that would block critical clean air and climate protections

On July 12, APHA joined the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others in sending a letter to the House of Representatives opposing the FY 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The bill would cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by $164 million below current year levels. In addition, the bill contains a number of dangerous policy riders that would block clean air health protections. First, the bill would delay implementation of EPA’s updated ozone pollution standards by eight years, which would lead to more illness and premature death from ozone. The bill would also block EPA’s Clean Power Plan and indefinitely delay limits on greenhouse gasses from new power plants. Power plants are the nation’s largest single source of carbon pollution, which contributes to climate change. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will take a crucial step forward in limiting carbon pollution and curbing climate change; it will also reduce other harmful air pollutants at the same time, preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year once fully implemented. The bill would also block EPA’s recently adopted limits on methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities, and block EPA from setting limits on existing facilities. Methane is a potent climate change pollutant. The standards to limit methane from new sources in the oil and gas industry will not only limit methane, but also volatile organic compounds, including carcinogens and toxic gasses that can react to form ozone. It would also delay EPA’s work by forcing the agency to reconsider the social cost of carbon, a measurement that allows for the calculation of costs and benefits of rules that impact carbon emissions. Unfortunately the bill passed the full House on July 14 by a vote of 231-196. The Senate has not yet taken up the bill, and it is unlikely it will be able to pass a bill and reconcile it with the House before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Join APHA’s summer advocacy campaign 

Members of Congress are now home through Sept. 2 for recess. This is a great time to reach out to your representative and senators to educate them on public health and the issues impacting your community, district and state. APHA’s annual advocacy campaign, the Public Health Action, or PHACT, campaign, provides resources to support your advocacy efforts such as attending public forums, using social media, setting up a meeting or inviting your members of Congress to visit your program, sending a letter, email or action alert, calling your members of Congress, or publishing a letter to the editor or op-ed in your local paper. For op-ed templates, email mediarelations@apha.org

Let us know about your PHACT campaign success stories by emailing us at phact@apha.org, and your advocacy efforts may then be featured through APHA channels. 

Aug. 15 deadline for APHA 2017 Public Health Fellowship in Government

APHA is seeking candidates for the 2017 Public Health Fellowship in Government, a paid, yearlong program based in Washington, D.C. The fellow will have the opportunity to work in Congress on legislative and policy issues, experiencing firsthand how public policy decisions affect our nation’s public health system. Applications, guidelines and articles from previous fellows are available on APHA’s website. Applications are due by Aug. 15.  

Policy watch: State and international updates

California passes gun violence prevention laws 

At a time when Congress has been unsuccessful, the state of California has successfully passed a package of laws aimed at preventing gun violence. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law six bills and vetoed five, deeming them overly regulative. Among those signed into law are several that regulate assault weapons, including the expansion of the definition of ‘assault weapon’ to include specified guns that accept any type of detachable magazine, a ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles equipped with bullet buttons and a ban on the possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which builds on the state’s current prohibition of manufacturing of such large-capacity magazines. Additionally, the new law requires ammunition purchasers to undergo background checks, those selling bullets to have a license and for purchasing data to be submitted to the state Department of Justice. Furthermore, the law will enact restrictions on loaning guns, and it will be a misdemeanor to issue a false report to law enforcement that a firearm has been lost or stolen. The six new laws will go into effect on different dates, ranging from the start of 2017 to July 2019.

Delaware reaffirms importance of women’s health, passing five bills

Building on the state’s passage of seven women-centered bills in 2015, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed five more bills into law focusing on the health and rights of women. The first prohibits employers from preventing employees’ discussion of equal pay, strengthening pay transparency in the workplace. The second forbids employers from taking discriminatory actions such as firing or demoting someone because of caregiving responsibilities, consequences that have disproportionately affected mothers in the past. The third creates a framework for reporting sexual assault on college campuses and requires institutions to submit annual reports to the Department of Justice. In addition the governor signed two bills to improve women’s health. The first requires health care providers to provide resources to new and expecting mothers surrounding post-partum depression. The other prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of reproductive health decisions. The law will go into effect in 2017 and make it illegal to fire women because they have had an abortion, used birth control or become pregnant out of wedlock or through in vitro fertilization.

Uruguay’s health-oriented tobacco policy triumphs in six-year legal battle

On July 8, the World Bank’s trade tribunal, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, upheld Uruguay’s right to implement tobacco control measures to protect health. Philip Morris took Uruguay to international court, claiming that the country violated terms of an investment agreement with Switzerland by implementing tobacco control measures, including requirements that health warnings must cover 80 percent of cigarette packs and that tobacco companies must adopt a single form of presentation of their brands. ICSID ruled that Uruguay has the right to continue its comprehensive anti-cigarette marketing and that Philip Morris International, the tobacco industry plaintiff, must repay the country $7 million in legal costs for the six-year court battle. In the legal proceedings, Uruguay cited that from 2006 to 2013, when stricter tobacco policies were in effect, the number of adult smokers decreased by 31.3 percent. The country also cited that admissions to public hospitals for smoking-related conditions fell 22 percent in the past 10 years. 
 


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APHA 800 I Street NW, Washington DC 20001
202-777-APHA (phone) * 202-777-2534 (fax)

 


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