On Thursday, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 3877), a measure lifts the debt ceiling and allocates top-line funding levels for the government over the next two years. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last week and will next go to the president’s desk for his approval. President Trump plans to sign the bill into law this week. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 does not appropriate money for specific programs but does provide top-line numbers for government spending over the next two years. This bill will allow for Congress to begin passing appropriations bills for specific programs in the fall, working to meet Congress’s deadline of Sept. 30.

The passage of this budget deal marks the end of sequestration, a practice that was harmful to families and communities and was mandated under the Balanced Budget Act of 2011. The Balanced Budget Act imposed automatic sequestration (or across the board funding reductions to government programs) unless Congress stepped in to lift the budget caps imposed by that legislation. The Balanced Budget Act was a 10-year law, and since Congress just raised spending caps through fiscal year 2021, sequestration is officially over. 

Alliance Commentary on Financial Stability Challenges

In other news, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities President and CEO Susan Dreyfus authored two blog posts this week focused on strengthening the human services sector and creating generative partnerships with government. The first post urges community-based organizations (CBOs) receive fair reimbursement, which covers the full cost of providing services, from government contracts. In the second post, Dreyfus discusses her recent presentation to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation on the ways our sector contributes to bringing down health care costs through generative partnerships.

Do You Have Insight/Experience with CBO-Government Agency Partnerships?

Are there other opportunities our sector and the public sector should partner together on to achieve our common mission of a healthy and equitable society? The Alliance would love to hear from you to inform our forthcoming tool to guide integration and coordination between CBOs and government agencies. 

Join our next focus group to inform this work, which will advance the recommendations in our report, A National Imperative: Joining Forces to Strengthen Human Services in America

Register online for the next focus group call, Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 3-4 p.m. CT. If you cannot join the call, share your insight using this online form.

Social Determinants Accelerator Act Introduced in the House of Representatives

Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Kathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) introduced the Social Determinants Accelerator Act July 25. Major provisions include:

  • Launching the Social Determinants Accelerator Program to help states and communities devise strategies to better leverage existing programs and authorities to improve the health and well-being of those participating in Medicaid
  • Helping state, local, and tribal government to develop evidence-based approaches to coordinate services and improve outcomes and cost effectiveness through planning grants and technical assistance
  • Establishing an inter-agency technical advisory council on social determinants of health made up of experts from across the federal government that would make up to $25 million in grants available through Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in consultation with the council

The act was introduced and awaits referral to a House of Representatives committee for review.

FFPSA Clearinghouse Approves Two More Programs 

The Children’s Bureau announced the addition of two programs to the Clearinghouse July 24: 

  • Healthy Families America
  • Methadone Maintenance Therapy

The clearinghouse, established under the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and under the jurisdiction of the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), is responsible for reviewing programs as either well-supported, supported, promising, or does not currently meet criteria to provide support to children and families and keep families together. 

Healthy Families America, a home visiting program for new and expectant families with children who are at-risk for maltreatment or adverse childhood experiences, was rated well-supported, while Methadone Maintenance Therapy, a medication-assisted treatment to reduce the use of opioids and heroin, was given a promising rating. At this point the Clearinghouse has provided ratings for 12 programs since the website launched in June. To view all programs reviewed thus far, visit the clearinghouse website

ACF Releases Program Instructions Regarding Transitional Payments

On July 18, ACF released additional instructions regarding transitional payments. Elaborating on its statement issued June 6 that ACF would now be offering transitional payments to states that are running programs still being reviewed by the Clearinghouse, ACF has now offered more comprehensive instructions on how transitional payments will be distributed. In order to qualify, the instructions require states to conduct independent systematic reviews of prevention services and programs. For states with programs that they would like to claim transitional funds for, they must complete and submit a checklist along with the required documentation laid out in the instructions. The Program Instruction requires that states must submit materials by Oct. 1, 2021. 

Source: APHSA

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