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On the Hill: Public Health Markup, CHIP, Immigration

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce marked up several public health bills, including two trauma-care related bills and two focusing on drug enforcement. All of the bills passed through the committee by voice vote and are cleared to go to the House floor. The trauma-related legislation would reauthorize trauma care center grants to hospitals facing significant uncompensated care resulting from trauma injuries. It would also reauthorize grants for trauma systems planning, which support state and rural development of trauma systems. The drug enforcement bills would allow the Drug Enforcement Agency to schedule new drugs more quickly and to increase access to medications by promoting collaboration among government agencies, patients, and stakeholders.

Children’s health leaders in both the House and Senate introduced legislation last week that would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through fiscal year 2019. The measure introduced in the Senate offers a straightforward extension of the current law. The House measure, along with extending funding, includes enhanced pediatric quality measures and an extension of the Medicaid primary care payment parity provision passed under the Affordable Act, which expired last year.  America’s Essential Hospitals supports both bills and continues to advocate for a swift funding extension for CHIP.

In other news, a measure to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to hit roadblocks as Republicans attempt to defund President Obama’s executive action to grant temporary legal residency to as many as five million undocumented immigrants. Current department funding expires Feb. 27.

The House and Senate stand in recess this week for district and state work periods. Congress will return next week with DHS funding at the top of the to-do list.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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