In a break from the partisan budget negotiations of last year, Congress successfully passed a FY "97 spending bill that will enable the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to continue receiving funds without any interruption. Negotiators took a more conciliatory approach this year in an attempt to get lawmakers out on the campaign trail and, as a result, compromises were reached quickly. The Administration forced concessions from Congressional leaders, adding back over $6.5 billion in many areas, including education funding and other areas such as Head Start, Ryan White and IDEA. In many cases, Republican appropriators took the lead in increasing funds in some programs, including programs in the National Institutes of Health and Healthy Start.
The Maternal and Child Health Block grant received funding of $681.4 million. The appropriators earmarked $2.8 million of that money for a traumatic brain injury program that will be funded out of SPRANS dollars. In short, the program will receive the same funding as FY '96. Funding for other programs is listed below.
|Program||FY '95||FY '96||FY '97|
|MCH Block Grant||$684 million||$678.2||$681.4 (with 2.8 million earmarked)|
|Prevention Block Grant||$158||$145||$154|
|Ryan White Title II||$198||$261||$415|
|Ryan White Title IV||$26||$29||$36|
|Breast & Cerv. Cancer||$100||$125||$139|
The Labor, HHS section of the spending bill includes some legislative riders restricting benefits for illegal immigrants except for emergency medical assistance, treatment for communicable diseases, and benefits mandated by federal courts. Additionally, the bill requires federally subsidized family planning clinics to certify that they have a policy that encourages family participation when a minor seeks services. The bill also prohinits federally funded research using human embryos.
The spending bill, H.R. 3610, became the catch-all bill where many last minute legislative items were added. Immigration reform made its way into this bill. (See immigration article) Some other legislative items were kept off the bill due to lack of agreement. No agreement was reached on the Local Flexibility Act, which would have allowed major changes in how federal dollars are used at the local level and, therefore, was not included in the final bill. It is expected that the issues in this bill will be re-visited next year with Democrats and Republicans interested in the concept.
The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is a national non-profit organization which brings together state public health programs addressing the needs of women in their reproductive years, children, youth, and families. AMCHP's mission is to assure the health of all mothers, children, and their families.