The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee has scheduled a roundtable on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other forms of childhood trauma for July 16 in the morning and a hearing on the same issue July 17. The roundtable will feature trauma survivors. The goal of the hearing is to educate the members of the committee about Adverse Childhood Experiences, trauma science, and the programs being implemented in the federal, state, and local governments to reduce the causes and effects of ACEs. The roundtable and the hearing are to set the stage for comprehensive trauma-informed legislation that Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings plans to introduce in the fall. The legislation is a work in progress. 

The Alliance is part of a coalition of organizations encouraging local organizations working to address trauma to host roundtables in the Congressional Districts of members of the Oversight Committee during this August. The Oversight and Reform Committee has broad responsibilities that give it jurisdiction over many of the issues that are involved in addressing ACEs. If you are interested in holding such a roundtable event and would like to see if your member of Congress is on the Oversight Committee, check out this list. For more information, please contact the Alliance Office of Public Policy and Mobilization.

The Alliance continues to promote legislation to advance a universal charitable deduction, and we remain concerned about the impact the new tax law is having on donations. Read our latest update to learn about what we are working on.

The Dream and Promise Act Passes in the House

The Dream and Promise Act (HR 6) passed on a party line vote June 4, marking the first House passage of a major immigration bill in six years. The bill focuses on legalizing citizenship of young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, most of whom qualified for the DREAMERS and Temporary Protected State programs. The Dream Act has been repeatedly reintroduced in Congress since 2001, with its last passage in the House in 2010 meeting a stall in the Senate. Its passage is unlikely unless Senate Republicans make changes before it reaches the president, whose administration has come out as “strongly opposed” to the bill according to a statement issued June 3. Political pressure remains on the courts as they continue to keep Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, Temporary Protected Status, and Deferred Enforced Departure programs in tact despite challenges from the administration.  

Source: Bloomberg Government

Congress Hosts Foster Youth Day

June 4 marked the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth’s eighth annual shadow day. Foster youth took to the halls of Congress to share stories with over 75 members of Congress who participated. The day included a briefing on the right to counsel in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, highlighting the importance of high-quality representation for children and parents and citing work done by the Family Justice Institute and a recent study in New York City on parental representation in Child Welfare.  

Proposed Exceptions lead to Negative Reviews for Health Data Exchange Rule

According to representatives of electronic health record vendors and health-care organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposal aimed toward allowing greater access to medical records between health care providers has too many exceptions. Critics argue that the proposal will have the opposite of its intended effect, leading to more information blocking and less clarity, with some stating that these changes could harm patients. Opponents to the proposal agree that the complexity of the exceptions will create more paperwork for physicians and make compliance challenging. Some critics believe the exceptions are too broad, leave too many loopholes, and hinder electronic health record exchange. Advocates are calling for a rewrite of the rule, adding to the over 1,000 comments from industry groups submitted to HHS urging them to overhaul the proposal.

The Alliance compiled comments from our members and did submit comments to interoperability rulemaking. Alliance members have often shared that a barrier to partnering with health systems is the complexity of data interoperability. Our comments focused on reminding HHS about the role of human services organizations in addressing the social determinants of health.

GAO Study Sparks Legislative Action to Support Children who Experience Trauma

A study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that states face several challenges in detecting and supporting children who experience trauma. The report looked at efforts made by federal and state governments in six states to identify and support children exposed to trauma and established best practices and funding sources used by successful states. GAO listed four common limitations to this work including:

  • High rates of staff turnover, especially in child welfare
  • Limited staff time to dedicate to trauma initiatives
  • Lack of clinicians trained in trauma-focused therapies
  • Insufficient funding to support trauma initiatives

The report takes a comprehensive look at these states, highlighting triumphs facilitated with help from departments of Health and Human Services and Education, support offered by child welfare and education agencies, and the common challenges that states face in supporting these children. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) are working on legislation that seeks to improve issues that GAO cited, such as identification and support of children and families under this category. 

Republican Leaders to Work with Trump to Reach Agreement on Budget Caps 

Before Congress can work out individual budgets, it will need to negotiate a deal to lift budget caps and raise the debt ceiling. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has said that Republican leaders are looking to set up a meeting with White House advisors next week to raise the discretionary spending caps. According to Shelby, Republican leaders are open to negotiation with Democrats on discretionary spending levels to allow appropriators to begin to implement FY20 budgets with higher numbers. Shelby said that once a number is agreed upon, the lawmakers will be able to move fast. 

Source: Bloomberg Government

Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act Reintroduced by Sens. Blunt, Reed

Sens. Blunt (R-Mo.) and Reed (D-R.I.) hope to make pediatric health services for children more accessible through the reintroduction of the Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act. The legislation includes expansion of eligibility for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program to include physicians trained in pediatric subspecialties such as child and adolescent psychiatrists. Blunt said that the bill is aimed to alleviate the high cost of pursuing a career in pediatric subspecialties and bridge the gap in the shortage in the field, allowing more children access to health care.

House Passes Disaster Relief Bill 

The bill, a $19.1 billion package for disaster relief, including $900 million in aid to Puerto Rico, was sent to the White House with a vote of 354-58. This was the third time that the House sought to move the bill by unanimous consent after opposition from three conservative lawmakers last week. The bill passed in the Senate May 23, making its next step approval from the president, who has said he supports the measure. 

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