After Delay, Key WIC Funding Vote Scheduled this Week
Last week, the Senate attempted to pass a FY 2019 funding package including the Agriculture appropriations bill, which encompasses WIC funding. As a result of debate on other elements of the package, the final vote on the funding measure was delayed to this week. With respect to WIC funding, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has introduced amendment #3616 to increase funding for the WIC breastfeeding peer counselor program from $60 million to $80 million. Senators are still debating which amendments will receive a vote as part of the final "manager's amendment" package, which is likely to be approved without significant debate. Should Senator Casey’s measure not be included in the manager’s amendment, it is possible that the amendment might not even see a vote.
Now is the time for your voice to be heard. Take action to support additional funding for WIC peer counselors by contacting your senators here!
Local Advocacy Alert: Anaheim WIC Hosts Congressional Staff
Last week, the WIC clinic in Anaheim, California, hosted the Senior Field Representative for Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA). WIC moms and clinic staff highlighted the clinic’s work, specifically emphasizing the importance of the breastfeeding peer counselor program and how increased funding would allow for peer counselors at every WIC location.
Routinely hosting elected officials, community leaders, or policy staff at a clinic can help to educate important decision-makers on the value of WIC. If you are interested in coordinating a site visit, NWA can help connect you with a relevant contact. Please reach out to either Ali Hard or Brian Dittmeier.
ACA Payments for Insurers Resume
Billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments to insurers have resumed. The payments, authorized by the Affordable Care Act to encourage insurers to cover individuals with costly health conditions, were halted by the Trump Administration last month. A final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now explains the program methodology and addresses concerns raised by a New Mexico judge about the funding formula.
Risk adjustment payments stabilize health insurance markets by providing payments to insurers that cover high-risk patients with costly health conditions. Risk adjustments incentivize insurance companies to insure people with chronic health conditions in addition to typically low-cost healthy individuals. When the decision to freeze risk adjustment payments was announced last month, America’s Health Insurance Plans stated, “This decision will have serious consequences for millions of consumers who get their coverage through small businesses or buy coverage on their own.” The Trump Administration’s decision to freeze payments came as insurers were calculating premiums for 2019 plans, and the dispute could lead to higher premiums next year.
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) commended the decision to reinstate risk adjustment payments: "This action by CMS allows the continuation of risk adjustment payments and collections, private dollars that are transferred from one insurer to another, ensuring certainty in the individual and small group markets."