Since the Children’s Defense Fund last published our annual State of America’s Children report in February 2020, our children have experienced a year of unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial reckoning years in the making. Every aspect of children’s lives has been impacted by these shifts more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives. This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America’s Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear, “Our Children are Not Immune.”
CDF joins the call for Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 4995) and the bipartisan Helping MOMS Act of 2020 (H.R. 4996) as soon as possible. Final passage of H.R. 4995 and H.R. 4996 is a critical and foundational next step in Congress’ work to address maternal mortality and improve maternal health.
Regulations play an important role in implementing a wide range of HHS policies and programs serving children and families, including child care, substance use treatment, child welfare, food safety, and health care. CDF is very concerned that the proposed rule will disrupt the ability of the Department of Health and Human Services to efficiently administer critical programs and services for children and families and should be withdrawn immediately.
CDF Joined Over 80 National Organizations Calling for Congress to Enact New Pandemic Relief Legislation to Reduce the Harms of the Health and Economic Crisis
We urge Congress to enact new pandemic relief legislation that can effectively reduce the harsh scope of the health and economic crisis engulfing our nation. Congress must approve (1) cash and other assistance to prevent devastating and long-term losses to the jobless and families; (2) protections and resources to create conditions for a safe return to work; (3) state and local aid to ensure adequate health care, education, and many other essential services; and (4) Congress must protect mainstays of our democracy from being undermined by the pandemic: safe voting; the U.S. Postal Service; and the decennial Census.
CDF Joins 270+ Organizations Calling for HHS to Take Action on Pending Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations to Address Racial Disparities and Systemic Racism
One consequence of the systemic racism highlighted by the pandemic and nationwide protests against racial inequality and injustices is the health disparities faced by Black people in general, and Black women in particular. Medicaid, which provides coverage for over 70 million people with low incomes who -- due to systemic racism and barriers to care – are disproportionately people of color, has an unmatched opportunity to reduce these disparities. We urge you to take two immediate steps with respect to Medicaid section 1115 demonstrations that will work to mitigate racial disparities rather than making them worse.
CDF Urges Congress to Include Robust Education and Health Funding in the Next COVID-19 Relief Package
we urge Congress to include robust funding for education in the next legislative package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we urge at least $200 billion in additional funding for K-12 education and programs that support marginalized students that are most likely to be affected by missing in-person instruction. Money must be available to all schools regardless of their timeline for reopening. Schools in areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread may need to consider delaying a return to fulltime in-person instruction, and these schools will need the same or greater federal investments, not fewer. In addition, we strongly urge Congress to increase the federal government’s share of Medicaid costs by raising the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) at least another 5.8 percentage points.
Given the magnitude of both the public health and economic crises the nation continues to face, state and local governments need more support to provide health care services to individuals and families. We urge Congress to provide an additional FMAP increase of at least 5.8 percentage points, be retroactive to January 1, 2020, and remain until September 30, 2021, regardless of unemployment conditions. After September 30, 2021, the 12 percent FMAP increase should not be reduced until the national unemployment rate falls below 5 percent. In addition, we request additional FMAP increases be determined based on the increase in a state’s unemployment rate.
We urge USDA to use its full authority to quickly extend the rest of the nationwide waivers, and state-specific waivers such as area eligibility, until September 30, 2020, or at least August 31, 2020. Extending the waivers is not only in the interest of public health, it also provides consistency for families and eases the administrative burden on state child nutrition agencies and FNS staff. The urgency of extending these waivers now cannot be understated as schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofits are making decisions today about whether or not they will continue to operate these programs this summer.
As organizations dedicated to promoting the health of our nation’s children and pregnant women, we strongly urge Congress to protect and strengthen Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of any forthcoming legislative efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated subsequent recovery period.
CDF joined other leading organizations to encourage Congress to build on past bipartisan efforts and ensure all individuals have equitable access to testing and treatment for COVID-19; equip states and localities with sufficient financial support to combat the crisis; provide protection and support to the health care workforce and others on the frontlines of the pandemic; assure access and capacity in the health system; and protect against high and unexpected health care costs.