Government Affairs and Advocacy

July 31 Federal Update: Streamlining Federal Grants Act Makes it out of Committee

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July 31, 2023

Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs marked up the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023, which was introduced by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) on July 17. In his introductory remarks, Sen. Peters thanked Sens. Lankford and Cornyn for their hard work on the bipartisan bill. He lauded the bill’s potential to help nonprofits apply for and manage grants, reduce government waste, and promote language access. After a series of amendments were introduced and voted down, the bill passed out of committee, clearing the way for a vote before the entire Senate in the months to come.

Social Current has been a strong and outspoken champion of the bill, which would simplify the grant application process for the social sector, particularly nonprofits, which face the most challenges in applying for grants. After the bill’s introduction, Social Current President and CEO Jody Levison-Johnson said:

“I am thrilled to see the introduction of the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023 in the Senate, which reflects in part the Relief4Charities policy asks to strengthen and support the nonprofit sector. This legislation will greatly improve access to federal grants for underserved communities and streamline the application process.”

The bill would create a Grants Council with representatives from all federal grantmaking agencies, which would guide reforming complex and outdated procedures. Proposed reforms include everything from streamlining the application, administrative, and reporting processes to enhancing user experiences and soliciting grantee feedback. The legislation also requires federal agencies to seek input from non-federal agencies, including nonprofits, in the development and implementation of their agency plans. Finally, funding opportunities will be required to provide short, clear, and accessible summaries, so that potential applicants can readily understand them.

Social Current will continue to advocate for the passage of the Streamlining Federal Grants Act of 2023 and to keep the network updated on its progress through congressional negotiations.

Learn more about the legislation’s provisions that benefit charitable nonprofits in this one-pager from Social Current and the National Council of Nonprofits.

Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Compromise Passes the Energy and Commerce Committee

On July 19, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to pass H.R. 4531, the Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act. The bill included a compromised version of H.R. 4056, the Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act, which would grant federal Medicaid coverage to children in foster care receiving treatment from Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) classified as Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs).

A QRTP is typically classified as an IMD if it has over 16 beds. Currently, states cannot receive federal Medicaid payments for services provided to individuals in an IMD setting. This means that while a Medicaid-eligible child in an IMD does not lose their Medicaid benefits, states must bear the total cost. The classification of large QRTPs as IMDs aims to discourage congregate care for foster children and encourage states to increase the use of family and foster family care, which has been shown to have significantly better outcomes for children.

H.R. 4056 aimed to remove this IMD exclusion for children in foster care and allow states to draw from federal Medicaid funds to pay for their treatment while in a QRTP, regardless of whether it is classified as an IMD. The compromise, Sec. 304, would permanently lift the IMD exclusion for substance use disorder and permit QRTPs to bill Medicaid for health care services outside these facilities’ walls. Essentially, the compromise allows QRTPs to bill Medicaid for the treatment a child receives elsewhere, such as doctor appointments, but still does not allow a QRTP to use federal Medicaid funds to pay for in-house treatment provided by the QRTP. While Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), sponsors of H.R. 4056, both made it clear that they do not believe this compromise goes far enough to support QRTPs, they described the move as a step forward.

HHS Proposes New Rules to Achieve Parity for Mental Health Care

On July 25, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed new rules to ensure people seeking coverage for mental health care and substance abuse disorder can access these services as quickly and affordably as people can access coverage for medical treatments. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was enacted in 2008 and built on the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 to lessen the barriers faced by those seeking mental health care. However, these barriers still exist 15 years later. To combat illegal restrictions on mental health and substance abuse treatment benefits, the U.S. Department of Health and Human proposes that plans and issuers make NQTL (Non-Quantitative Treatment Limitations) comparative analyses available to the Department of Treasury, the Department of Labor, the Department of Human Services, and eventually to Congress. If enacted, these new rules would be added to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and ensure plans and issuers are not putting unnecessary barriers in the way of receiving coverage for mental health care.

Family First Prevention Services Clearinghouse Posts New Ratings

The Family First Prevention Clearinghouse has posted new ratings for nine prevention services. Seven were found to be “promising,” and two were rated as “does not currently meet criteria.” The programs included mental health and in-home parent skill-based services. So far, 148 programs and services have been reviewed, and 76 have been rated as promising, supported, or well-supported. The new ratings are:

  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy: “Promising”
  • Child-Centered Group Play Therapy (Re-review): “Promising”
  • Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (Re-review): “Promising”
  • Narrative Exposure Therapy: “Promising”
  • Smart Beginnings: “Promising”
  • Treatment Foster Care Oregon for Adolescents: “Promising”
  • Treatment Foster Care Oregon for Middle Childhood: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Treatment Foster Care Oregon for Preschoolers: “Does not currently meet criteria.”
  • Video Interaction Project: “Promising”

Proclamation Will Establish Monuments to Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley

Last week, on what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation to establish a monument honoring Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley. The racially motivated murder of 14-year-old Till and the subsequent activism of his mother played key roles in the civil rights movement.

The monument, the fourth national monument designated by the Biden administration, will span three sites in Illinois and Mississippi that hold historical importance. The first site will be in Graball Landing, Mississippi, where Till’s body was discovered in the Tallahatchie River. The second site will be Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, where Till-Mobley held her son’s open-casket funeral. The monument’s third site will be the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where an all-white jury acquitted Till’s killers.

In his remarks at the proclamation signing ceremony, Biden raised the importance of understanding our country’s history of racism as a means for moving toward social justice and rejected moves, such as those in Florida, to erase and twist it.

Biden noted, “At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we’re making it clear — crystal, crystal clear — while darkness and denialism can hide much, they erase nothing. They can hide, but they erase nothing.”

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