UPDATE (July 31, 2019): The House and Senate have both passed a bill to fund Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2Fs) for FIVE more years – through FY 2024 – at the current funding level of $6 million per year! The legislation also makes permanent the provision that requires the establishment of F2Fs for territories and tribes. Within the next few weeks, the president is expected to sign the bill into law.
The F2F provision was included in a bill, the Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019 (formerly the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019) (H.R. 3253), that extends several programs, including the Money-Follows-the-Person demonstration program, and the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program.
The extension of this funding for five years will help F2Fs more effectively and efficiently plan ahead, retain experienced staff, and expand partnerships in the community.
We are very grateful for the bipartisan support of Congress, particularly those Members who made this happen – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), sponsors of the Senate F2F bill; Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI), sponsors of the House F2F bill; House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ); Ranking Members of the key committees, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Greg Walden (R-OR); and Representative Deborah Dingell (D-MI), who sponsored the bill to which the F2F provision was added.
It takes a village to raise a child and so too to sustain the critical work of F2Fs!
For more information on the legislation and its path through Congress, please see “Congressional Action,” below.
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2Fs) are family-led centers providing support to families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and helping them to navigate the health care system so their children can get the care they need. The federal F2F grant program was created on a bipartisan basis in 2006 to provide funding for F2Fs. Since 2009, when the program was fully phased in, there has been one F2F in each state and the District of Columbia. Thanks to a 2018 amendment to the program, now there are also F2Fs in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, plus three F2Fs dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native families. The federal grant for each F2F is $96,750 per year. In 2017, the program was extended through federal FY 2019 (September 30, 2019).
The ultimate passage of the F2F funding extension and amendment took a long and winding road through Congress.
In May 2019, Representatives Mikie (Michelle) Sherrill (D-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the Family-to-Family Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 2822), and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Supporting Family-to-Family Health Information Centers Act (S.1647). Both bills would extend funding for the F2F program for an additional five years, through federal FY 2024, at the current funding level of $6 million per year. The Senate bill also included a provision to make permanent the establishment of F2Fs for territories and tribes. The bills were referred to the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce (E&C), and to the Senate Finance Committee.
On June 4, 2019, the E&C Health Subcommittee held a hearing on a number of health bills, including the Family-to-Family Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 2822). Diana Autin, Executive Co-Director of the New Jersey F2F (the SPAN Parent Advocacy Center) testified on behalf of Family Voices.
You can read Diana’s oral testimony, as prepared for presentation to the subcommittee, and the written testimony of Family Voices and SPAN that was submitted for the hearing record. You can watch a video of Diana’s 5-minute testimony before the subcommittee at minute:second 40:40 of the video. You can also watch a question about the NJ F2F that was posed by Rep. Pallone, and Diana’s answer, at hour:min:sec 1:11:46, and a question posed by Rep. Upton, and Diana’s answer at 1:13:55. The latter question and answer were about the importance of extending the program for five years (longer than it has been extended in the past) – a longer extension makes it easier to plan, develop partnerships with other agencies and organizations, retain valuable employees, and secure funding from other sources.
Thirty-seven (37) national organizations expressed their support for the House bill in a June 3, 2019, letter to Representatives Sherrill and Upton.
On July 11, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee favorably reported out a bill, the Reauthorizing and Extending America’s Community Health (REACH) Act (H.R. 2328, committee print), which included (in Section 103) a 4-year extension of F2F funding at the current level of $6 million per year. On July 17, the full Energy & Commerce Committee favorably reported out an amended version of the same legislation, which also included the 4-year extension of F2F funding.
On July 25, the Senate approved an amended version of a different bill that the House had passed in June – the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 3253), sponsored by Rep. Deborah Dingell (R-MI). That bill extends several programs, including the Money-Follows-the-Person demonstration program and the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program. The Senate renamed the bill the Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019, and sent it back the House with the 5-year extension of the F2F program included. The House approved the Senate version of bill on July 30.
House- and Senate-passed bill including the 5-year F2F funding extension:
The Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019 (H.R. 3253) (formerly titled the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019)
House bill (H.R. 2822):
Senate bill (S. 1647):
Information from House Hearing, June 4, 2019: