This is the legislative update for May 2, 2022.View all updates here.
- This week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and youth mental health is going to be a significant focus in the Senate.
- The Senate is working on the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which will bring up issues like immigrant children’s access to care.
- Children’s community advocacy team and social workers are meeting with Nebraska legislators to discuss social determinants of health and the needs of children in North and South Omaha.
- Children’s will be participating in a number of interim studies that are focused on children’s health.
The May 2, 2022 legislative update includes highlights from both federal and state legislatures.
The Senate is currently in session. The House is out until May 10.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week
This week (May 1-7) is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. It is extremely timely and iconic to celebrate this week and spotlight the importance of caring for — and raising awareness for — children’s mental health.
Since 2005, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has observed Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to inform the public of the value of community-based services and to demonstrate how important initiatives for children’s mental health are for our future generations.
On May 5, SAMHSA will host a virtual event for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2022, with speakers from SAMHSA leadership, to commemorate youth and child mental health and honor peer and family support.
Additionally, Children’s will be participating in the Forum for Children’s Well-Being all week. This is a virtual event that includes guest speakers from Children’s Hospital Association as we collaborate with stakeholders on mental health initiatives in this Congress.
On Wednesday, May 4, at 2 pm CST, CHA and Sound the Alarm for Kids will be live from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign webinar. The virtual event will feature:
- New data on the impact of the PHE on youth mental health
- Strategies for improving access to and use of mental and behavioral health services
- Resources for suicide prevention
- Practices to support youth mental health
- Resources for organizations to use in their outreach
With all the great mental health work under our belts and continuing at the federal level, Congress is tasked with the looming challenges of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget with an unofficial Memorial Day weekend deadline. The Senate will start work on the Ukraine support package this week, but lawmakers must also decide whether to attach more COVID-preparedness funding to the legislation.
Budget & Immigration
The spending package could also become a vehicle for lawmakers who have an interest in reversing the Biden administration’s decision to end use of Title 42 public health authority to expel migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Alternatively, it could become a vehicle for an attempt at bipartisan immigration reform opportunities. As always, the task at hand is convoluted and will become partisan in a midterm election year.
Regarding the immigration discussions, Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) offered comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed rule reversing Title 42 immigration policies that changed the criteria used to determine if an immigrant may enter the US, receive a green card, or re-enter the US with a green card. Those policies added receipt of Medicaid coverage by adults and certain other benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
As many as 6.1 million US citizen children living in mixed status households were expected to be impacted by the policy, as parents would avoid Medicaid and CHIP out of fear of losing access to a green card.
CHA’s comments also suggest ways to strengthen the rule to further ensure that these “public charge” determinations do not impede eligible children from accessing Medicaid and other needed benefits.
Budget & Children’s Issues
On April 27, US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Javier Becerra testified before the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on the Fiscal Year 2023 HHS Budget. Several members elevated children’s issues and spoke to the importance of making investments in the Medicaid and CHIP programs, with Rep. Barragan, D Calif., pointing out the success of CHIP and the desire to see the program permanently funded.
Many members applauded the bolstered funding for mental health resources, imploring how the department plans to invest in children’s mental health challenges under Medicaid and CHIP. Chairman Pallone, D-N.J., and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Eshoo, D-Calif., called attention to the loss of coverage facing many Americans on Medicaid when the Public Health Emergency (PHE) comes to an end, and the need for a plan to ensure that our most vulnerable — including children — maintain access to health care.
On April 28, Sound the Alarm for Kids and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) held a virtual roundtable to discuss the national emergency on kids’ mental health. The roundtable included discussions on how we can address gaps in mental health resources to ensure Hispanic children and their families have access to culturally and developmentally appropriate resources.
Legislators may have taken their victory lap in Lincoln on April 20, yet their work continues strong into the interim.
The success that Senators Wayne (D-Dist. 13, Omaha, McKinney (D-Dist. 11, North Omaha) and Vargas (D-Dist. 7, South Omaha) had this year to emphasize the need of Nebraskans living in North and South Omaha will last a lifetime. But the hard work begins now.
A legislative committee has been derived to sort through opportunities that exist to infiltrate funding into these historically blighted areas. As you may know, Children’s has a growing passion and desire to support social determinants of health (SDOH), specifically when it comes to access to healthy food, secure housing, and financial literacy. With our community advocacy team and social workers, we are working to secure meetings with the senate panel to offer data and context to what children in these regions will need and what they are facing to make a difference. We have no doubt the opportunities that exist will be meaningful, but we are going to do our part to raise awareness for children in the area.
Interim studies that Children’s will be participating in over the summer and fall include:
- LR266: Interim study to examine Nebraska’s processes relating to investigation of reports of child abuse or neglect in licensed childcare facilities
- LR327: Interim study to examine issues relating to severe maternal morbidity
- LR354: Interim study to examine the educational experiences and outcomes of youth in foster care
- LR360: Interim study to examine eligibility, enrollment, application, renewal, and re-determination practices for the medical assistance program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the Department of Health and Human Services
- LR366: Interim study to examine at least three of the current certified community behavioral health clinics established through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s demonstration program
- LR383: Interim study to explore best practices for the implementation of a consumption tax in Nebraska
- LR397: Interim study to examine the needs, workforce, and funding streams for mental health care across Nebraska
- LR404: Interim study to examine the racial and ethnic disproportionality within Nebraska’s child welfare system
- LR407: Interim study to examine how Nebraska is utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds
- LR408: Interim study to examine ways to grow and diversify Nebraska’s health care workforce
- LR415: Interim study to examine the lack of access to quality and affordable health insurance for Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and potential solutions
- LR417: Interim study to review the current Medicaid reimbursement rates and processes for difficult-to-place patients in Nebraska’s acute care hospitals
- LR418: Interim study to examine the sales tax system in Nebraska with respect to exemptions provided to various industries
- LR420: Interim study to examine the education process and procedures for serving students with special needs
(Sources: CHA, AHA, NHA, Nebraska Chamber, Congress.gov, Nebraska Legislature, World Herald, Peetz & Co.)