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Legislative Update - green

June 2018

Join us for the Legislative Update call on
Monday, June 4, 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


  1. Farm Bill fails to pass in the House 
  2. Appropriators continue to move FY 2019 spending bills
  3. Senate HELP committee passes Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act 
  4. HHS releases proposed changes to Title X
  5. Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 is introduced in the House and Senate 

Controversial Farm Bill fails to pass in the House

In April, the House Agriculture Committee introduced the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, better known as the Farm Bill. The bill, an $868 billion legislation package that subsidizes agriculture and food assistance programs, requires reauthorization every four to five years and has historically been bipartisan. Yet the House committee’s 2018 draft legislation drew harsh criticism from Democrats largely due to proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. On May 18, House leadership brought the bill to the floor for a vote despite unanimous opposition from House Democrats. The bill failed 198-213, with every Democrat voting against the measure, along with 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers voted down the measure in response to House leadership denying their request for a vote on immigration reform. The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. If a new Farm Bill is not passed before that date, Congress will need pass an extension to the current bill or risk jeopardizing vital public health programs such as SNAP and key conservation programs. The House has yet to announce when they plan to bring the bill to the floor again, but has suggested they may do so before the July 4 recess.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate is expected to release its own version of a Farm Bill sometime this month. Counter to the efforts of their colleagues in the House, Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., of the Senate Agriculture Committee have publically stated their commitment to drafting a bipartisan bill.

APHA advocates can weigh in with their representatives by urging them to oppose the current House Farm bill and instead support a Farm Bill that prioritizes public health.  

Appropriators continue to move FY 2019 spending bills

Both House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to consider fiscal year 2019 spending bills, but the primary bill for federal public health agencies and programs, the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, is not expected to be considered by those committees before the end of June. In late May, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their FY 2019 302(b) allocations for each of their 12 subcommittees. This is the total amount of discretionary funding allotted for each of the 12 annual appropriations bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee provides the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee $2 billion above the FY 2018 allocation, while the House Appropriations Committee provides no increase for FY 2019 compared with the FY 2018. These tight spending levels could spell trouble for at least some public health agencies and programs when the committees take up the Labor-HHS-Education spending bills, which is expected in late June.

The Labor-HHS-Education spending bill is historically one of the last to be considered because it tends to be one of the most contentious of the 12 annual spending bills with partisan sparring over provisions including those related to reproductive health, tobacco, labor and education policy. APHA will continue to monitor the situation and has already weighed in with members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging increased funding for public health including for CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

APHA advocates can send messages to their members of Congress in support of strong funding for public health programs in FY 2019.

Senate HELP Committee passes PAHPA reauthorization legislation, House sets June 6 hearing

On May 23, by a vote of 22 to 1, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed S. 2852, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. APHA joined with the Trust for America’s Health, American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading public health and medical organizations in sending a letter to the committee in support of the bill in advance of the committee mark up. In the letter, the groups encouraged the committee to work to increase the authorization levels for all of the programs outlined in the letter as the bill moves forward to the full Senate and to also create a mechanism to fund and replenish the Public Health Emergency Fund. While the bill makes improvements to the PEHF, it does not address the funding issue. The bill would reauthorize for five years, programs that are critical to the nation’s preparedness and response for all populations to threats both naturally-occurring—including Ebola and pandemic influenza—and deliberate, such as a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attacks. The bill reauthorizes and strengthens the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which supports the work of health departments to prepare for and respond to all types of disasters as well as the Hospital Preparedness Program at the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which is critically important to preparing the healthcare delivery system to respond to and recover from a disaster. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over public health preparedness programs in the House of Representatives, will hold a hearing tilted Examining the Reauthorization of the Pandemic & All-Hazards Preparedness Act which will be webcast on June 6 at 10 am.

HHS releases proposed changes to Title X

On May 22, the Trump administration released a proposed rule that will restrict federal funds for any Title X funded clinic that performs abortions. Title X grants, under the US Department of Health and Human Services, provide funding to community health centers and family planning clinics to support health care service delivery for more than 4 million Americans, including low-income and uninsured individuals. This rule would cutoff Title X funds for health facilities that provide abortions, however, current policy enforced by the Hyde Amendment already bans federal funding of abortions. This new policy, often referred to as a “gag rule,” would prohibit the use of Title X funds to “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.” APHA joined over 100 organizations in opposing any iteration of a gag rule or restricting funding for Title X, citing the dangerous implications of limiting access to care and health information and policing health providers ability to provide all health care options to their patients. The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register in the coming days, at which time APHA advocates will have 60 days to submit comments in opposition to this rule.

Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 is introduced in the House and Senate

APHA joined more than 300 national, state and local organizations on a letter to leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus in support of the reintroduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act. HEAA is comprehensive, broadly supported legislation to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, and is the only legislation that holistically addresses health inequalities, their intersections with immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language, and socio-economic status, along with obstacles associated with historical and contemporary injustices. HEAA 2018 is comprised of the following titles that include provisions to address the wide spectrum of inequities that persist in health care access, quality and outcomes:

  1. Data collection and reporting;
  2. Culturally and linguistically appropriate health care;
  3. Health workforce diversity;
  4. Improving health care access and quality;
  5. Improving health outcomes for women, children and families;
  6. Mental health;
  7. Addressing high-impact minority diseases;
  8. Health information technology;
  9. Accountability and evaluation; and
  10.  Social determinants and environmental justice.

HEAA has been introduced by the Congressional Tri-Caucus since 2007. In this Congress, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, are sponsoring HEAA. APHA advocates can urge their members of Congress to co-sponsor HEAA of 2018 to better support a sustainable, cost-effective health care system without barriers that prohibit communities of color and other individuals from obtaining quality care and achieving equitable health outcomes.

Additional APHA Advocacy News

Given the rapid pace of action in Washington, D.C., we wanted to highlight additional issues we have weighed in on recently. Those include:

  • Health organization letter to Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee leaders in support of FY 2019 funding for Title X (May 29)
  • Organization letter to Senate HELP Committee members in support of S. 2852, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 (May 22)
  • Health organization letter to Secretary Scott Gottlieb in support of reducing the nicotine level in cigarettes (May 21)
  • APHA letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to oppose H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, better known as the Farm Bill (May 16)
  • Health organization letter to the House Committee on Rules opposing proposed amendments to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 that would undermine the evidence-based nutrition standards for meals, foods and beverages in schools (May 15) 
  • Health organization letter to Congressional leaders opposing any efforts to diminish the 340B drug pricing program (May 14)
  • Health organization letters to Senate and House leaders urging them to hold a vote on HR 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act and S 1112, the Maternal Health Accountability Act (May 11)
  • Organization letter in opposition to the White House proposal to rescind $7 billion of funding from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (May 9)
  • Friends of NIOSH letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders in support of FY 2019 funding for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and opposing the president's proposal to move NIOSH from CDC to NIH (May 9)
  • Friends of NCHS letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders in support of adequate FY 2019 funding for CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (May 7)
  • Health organization letter to Senators urging sensible and needed safety and consumer improvements to the AV START Act (May 4) 
  • Health organization letter to the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee leaders in support of FY2019 funding for the Federal Drug Administration's oversight of tobacco related products (May 4) 
  • Health organization letter to the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee leaders in support of FY 2019 funding for the Federal Drug Administration's oversight of tobacco related products (May 4) 

Contact * APHA Home
APHA 800 I Street NW, Washington DC 20001
202-777-2742 (phone) * 202-777-2534 (fax)


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