Budget Blog

August 23, 2022 - Washington Report

By Leah Wavrunek posted 08-23-2022 03:03 PM

  

This Week on the Hill  

The House and Senate are not in session for the remainder of the month.

 

HHS Appears to be Headed for Another Renewal of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Effective July 15, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the public health emergency (PHE) declaration originally declared January 31, 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The renewal remains in effect for 90 days and the Secretary may extend the declaration for subsequent 90-day periods for as long as the emergency continues. The available temporary 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires at the end of the quarter in which the public health emergency ends. When a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS plans to provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination. As of today, HHS has not provided states with advanced notice of the termination of the PHE, so it is likely that there will be another extension when the current one expires.

 

COVID-19 Relief Implementation

The following guidance and information was recently released to implement provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (Division M of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

  • HHS Releases Brief on Enrollment Impacts from Ending the Public Health Emergency: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an issue brief entitled Unwinding the Medicaid Continuous Enrollment Provision: Projected Enrollment Effects and Policy Approaches. The issue brief estimates the number of enrollees who will leave the program and lose eligibility for Medicaid, while also examining administrative actions to ensure individuals remain connected to coverage.
  • Treasury Announces Four Additional State Plans Approved for SSBCI, Updates FAQs: The Treasury Department announced four additional state plans were approved under the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) for up to $750 million in funds to expand access to capital for small businesses: Colorado, Montana, New York and Oregon. The department also updated its frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the program on August 15.
  • Administration Releases Back to School Fact Sheet: The administration released a fact sheet that lays out supports and guidance for protecting students, teachers and school communities this upcoming school year, including use of ARPA funds to improve air quality.
  • Education Releases Two Fact Sheets on Using ARPA Funds: The Department of Education released two fact sheets on utilizing ARPA funds for supporting learning acceleration and addressing the teacher shortage.

 

Administration Announces Additional Actions to Combat Monkeypox

On Thursday the administration announced new actions to combat the monkeypox outbreak. These actions include the following: making an additional 1.8 million doses of vaccine available for ordering starting August 22; launching a pilot program to provide additional vaccine allocations to state and local health departments in jurisdictions hosting large events attended by high-risk populations; offering assistance and support to jurisdictions hosting these events, including developing vaccine and testing strategies; and making available 50,000 patient courses of TPOXX to jurisdictions for prepositioning. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced an agreement to establish the first fill and finish line for the JYNNEOS vaccine in the U.S.

 

President Signs Inflation Reduction Act

Last Tuesday the President signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-169) into law and since enactment, the administration has released a series of fact sheets and other implementation resources. These fact sheets include state fact sheets on lowering energy costs and creating jobs; helping rural communities; and state fact sheets on lowering health care costs. The Treasury Department also released guidance and frequently asked questions on the plug-in electric vehicle (EV) credit. An issue brief on the act from Federal Funds Information for States (subscription required) can be found here.

 

IIJA Implementation Resources Released

Federal agencies continue to release implementation resources pertaining to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that all states and territories have submitted applications for initial planning funds as part of the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Initial planning fund applications were due by August 15 and NTIA noted it will “evaluate the applications and make awards available as expeditiously as possible.” Within 270 days of receiving planning funds, states and territories are required to submit a Five-Year Action Plan.
  • The administration released a list of open funding opportunities under the IIJA on its website, gov, updated as of August 15.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) updated its competitive grant funding matrix under the IIJA. The table notes that the FHWA will continue to add additional programs/information to this page over the weeks, months and years to come.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) released the notice of funding opportunity for $125 million under the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program. The IIJA increased annual authorizations from $100 million to $355 million and allowed for Tribes to apply for funding at 100 percent federal share with no matching requirement. Applications are due by October 24.
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the allocation of $309.8 million in funding from the IIJA and $1 million in appropriated funds for the planning, design and construction of water reuse projects. The funding is part of the $1 billion in WaterSMART Water Recycling and Reuse grants provided by the IIJA. A list of selected projects is included in the announcement.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) launched more than $28 million from the IIJA for research and development projects that will advance and preserve hydropower as a source of clean energy. The Notice of Intent will offer three funding opportunities this fall to support research, development, and deployment of hydropower.

 

CMS Announces Actions to Improve Health Care for Children

Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced three key actions to strengthen and expand access to high-quality, comprehensive health care for children. First, CMS released an informational bulletin on leveraging Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other federal programs in the delivery of behavioral health services for children and youth. Second, CMS released an informational bulletin prompting states to work with schools to deliver on-site health care services to children enrolled in Medicaid. Third, CMS released a proposed rule on mandatory state reporting requirements that would standardize quality measures across Medicaid and CHIP for children nationally. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by October 21.

 

President Signs Public Safety Officer Support Act

Last week the President signed H.R. 6943, the Public Safety Officer Support Act, into law. The law will provide benefit coverage for first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder after responding to a traumatic event and expands survivor benefits for families by changing the definition of a “line of duty death” for the federal Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) to include suicide in cases of first responders who respond to a mass casualty event or other kinds of traumatic events. The law’s changes were drafted to apply retroactively, which means the bill’s provisions will apply to families of law enforcement and other first responders who died by suicide after responding to traumatic events dating back to January 1, 2019.

 

Census Bureau Releases Report on 2020 Data Quality of Housing Units

Last week the Census Bureau released undercount and overcount rates for housing units from the 2020 Post-Enumeration Survey (PES). The PES estimates help show how well the 2020 Census covered housing units in the nation, excluding Remote Alaska areas. Key findings from the report include: the estimated rate of erroneous enumerations of housing units was 3.1 percent or 4.4 million; the PES estimated a statistically significant overcount (1.9 percent) of housing units in the Northeast Region while census counts of housing units in the Midwest, South and West did not have an estimated statistically significant undercount or overcount; occupied housing units and rented housing units had statistically significant overcounts; and mobile homes and other units had a statistically significant undercount.

 

FEMA Releases First-Ever National Tribal Strategy

On Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its first ever National Tribal Strategy to better address its responsibilities to federally recognized Tribal nations when responding to and preparing for disasters affecting Tribal lands. Through this new strategy, FEMA will initiate a national study on Tribal emergency management capacity and capabilities, develop a comprehensive FEMA guide of programs, develop Tribal-specific technical assistance resources, regularly convene an annual meeting of national and regional Tribal liaisons and expand training opportunities for Tribal nations, and other related objectives.

 

FCC Seeks Comment on E-Rate Eligible Services

On Monday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a request for comments on the proposed eligible services list for the schools and libraries E-Rate program for funding year 2023; funding is provided by the Universal Service Fund. This year, the FCC is not recommending any specific changes to the proposed fiscal year 2023 eligible services list. Comments are due by September 21.

 

FTA Announces $233 Million to Upgrade Intercity Passenger Rail Service

On Thursday the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded over $233 million in fiscal year 2021 funds to 11 projects in 8 states to improve and modernize intercity passenger rail service. Funded by the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program, investments were made in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Illinois. Full project descriptions can be found here.

 

Forest Service Announces Grants to Grow the Outdoor Recreation Economy

On Wednesday the Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced assistance for 25 small and rural communities to identify strategies to grow their outdoor recreation economies and revitalize Main Streets through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program. A federal planning team will work with each community over the course of four to six months, with a two-day facilitated community workshop as the focal point. Participants will work together to develop strategies and an action plan to grow their local outdoor recreation economies.

 

DHS Announces $550 Million in Preparedness Grant Awards

Last week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced final allocations for $550 million across seven fiscal year 2022 competitive preparedness grant programs. Allocations were announced for Operation Stonegarden ($90 million), Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program ($15 million), Nonprofit Security Grant Program ($250 million), Port Security Grant Program ($100 million), Transit Security Grant Program ($93 million), and Intercity Bus Security Grant Program ($2 million). Tables of recipients by program can be found here.

 

DOJ Announces $35.7 Million in Grants to Assist Sexual Assault Victims

On Friday the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced 56 awards totaling $35.7 million in funding from the Office on Violence Against Women to provide direct support and related assistance to victims of sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program (SASP) awards include funding for each U.S. state, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. States and territories subaward the funds to rape crisis centers and other agencies that provide direct intervention and related services to adult, youth, and child victims of sexual assault.

 

ONDCP Announces $12.4 Million for Drug-Free Communities Awards

Last week the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced approximately $12.4 million in grants for 99 new coalitions across the country as part of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program’s new awards for fiscal year 2022. The grants provide funding to new community coalitions working to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. A list of recipients can be found here.

 

Recently Released Reports

How Will the Prescription Drug Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act Affect Medicare Beneficiaries?

Kaiser Family Foundation

FDA Ban on Flavored Cigars Could Cost $836 Million in Annual Excise Tax Revenue

Tax Foundation

Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Quarter of 2022

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

 

 

Economic News

Unemployment Claims Reported for Week Ending August 13

The U.S. Department of Labor released unemployment insurance weekly claims data last Thursday that showed for the week ending August 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 250,000. This is a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level, which was revised down by 10,000 from 262,000 to 252,000. The 4-week moving average was 246,750, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 249,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending August 6, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 191,834 in the week ending August 13, a decrease of 4,536 (or -2.3 percent) from the previous week.

 

Unemployment Rates Lower in 14 States in July

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that many state unemployment rates saw little change in July; 33 states had stable unemployment rates, 3 states had higher rates, and 14 states and the District of Columbia had lower rates. Compared to one year earlier, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate decreases. The national unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent over the month and was 1.9 percentage points lower than in July 2021. In total, 17 states had unemployment rates lower than the national figure, 10 states and the District had higher rates, and 23 states had rates that were not appreciably different. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 20 states, decreased in 2 states, and was essentially unchanged in 28 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 43 states and the District and was essentially unchanged in 7 states.