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February 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 8

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Miami Children's Hospital Recognizes Important Acts of Congress during the First Session of the 110th Congress

Looking back on the first session of the 110th Congress, Miami Childrenís Hospital expresses its appreciation for several acts of Congress, many of which occurred during the final week of the session:

Childrenís Hospital Graduate Medical Education Funding

As part of an FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill for the first time in four years, Congress increased the annual budget for the Childrenís Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Program, lifting it from $297 million to $301.6 million. This program seeks to provide a level of federal support to independent childrenís teaching hospitals comparable to what adult teaching hospitals would receive through Medicare. Last year, Congress passed legislation that would authorize up to $330 million annually for five years, which would provide equitable federal GME funding to childrenís hospitals. This funding is critical to the ability of the nationís 60 independent childrenís teaching hospitals to strengthen and improve their physician training programs, addressing the shortages of pediatric subspecialists throughout the country. In FY 2007, Miami Childrenís Hospital received more than $5.6 million to support its physician training programs.

State Childrenís Health Insurance Program

As part of a new Medicare bill, Congress reauthorized and extended to March 2009 the 10-year old State Childrenís Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which had been scheduled to expire on December 21 after a series of short-term extensions beginning in September. The reauthorization will provide sufficient funding for all states to continue the program at current levels. Congress also passed with strong, bipartisan support a $35 billion expansion of SCHIP to cover millions of additional children. Congress will resume work on SCHIP in 2008.

Medicaid Coverage for Children

Medicaid is the nationís largest payer of health care for children and the largest payer of care provided by childrenís hospitals. Over the past year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which administers federal Medicaid funding to states, proposed new rules that would dramatically restrict statesí Medicaid programs to receive federal Medicaid funds. Last spring, as part of an Iraq war supplemental spending bill, Congress imposed a one year moratorium on CMS rules that would restrict statesí use of "intergovernmental transfers" to finance the statesí share of Medicaid costs and terminate, for the first time in Medicaidís history, federal Medicaid funds to help pay for the added costs of graduate medical education. In December, as part of a Medicare package, Congress also imposed a six-month moratorium on CMSí proposed rules to curtail states use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for transportation and rehabilitation services for children with special health care needs.

Miami Childrenís Hospital Brain Institute (MCHBI)

As part of the Department of Defense Appropriation, the MCHBI received an additional $1.6 million, bringing federal support for critical imaging, infrastructure and research support to a total of over $6 million. This has been an incredible effort on the part of the Florida Congressional Delegation with leadership roles played by Congressman Kendrick Meek and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Brain Institute is the nationís first comprehensive medical program dedicated solely to the pediatric neurosciences. It brings together world-renowned specialists in numerous pediatric neuroscience subspecialties that foster integrated research and offer the latest in assessment and treatment for children with disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. This marks the fourth year of appropriation for this state-of-the-art care and technology.

Pool Safety Act

Drowning is the second leading killer of children under the age of 14 in the country. President Bush signed legislation to provide incentives for states to adopt comprehensive pool safety laws that will protect children from life- threatening injuries and deaths from dangerous pool and spa drains. The legislation was included as part of a comprehensive energy bill. The new law, "The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007" is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. In 2002 at the age of 7, Graeme Baker died in a spa after the powerful suction of a drain entrapped her under water. The law will prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that do not meet anti-entrapment standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and includes a directive to establish safety standards. The law also establishes a national drowning prevention education program within the CPSC, and requires public pools and spas to be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers and other layers of protection, such as safety vacuum release systems. Miami Children's Hospital thanks Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her leadership role in making the Pool Safety Act a reality.

Product Safety

Consumer Product Reform Legislation was approved that provides more funding and authority designed to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Highlights of the bill include creating lead standards for childrenís products and recall authority. The legislation requires mandatory safety standards for nursery products such as cribs and high chairs, and calls for CPSC to examine the current voluntary safety standards for toys. The bill requires third party testing of childrenís products and mandates pre-market testing of many childrenís products to aid in their recall, and prohibits the sale and export of recalled products.

"Miami Children's Hospital appreciates the tremendous leadership modeled by our elected officials, at all levels of government," said Nancy Humbert, Vice President of Strategic Business Planning and Public Affairs at Miami Childrenís Hospital.

"These recent accomplishments by Congress underscore their longstanding commitment to the children we serve and we value their ongoing support," M. Narendra Kini, M.D., M.H.A., President and CEO of Miami Children's Hospital.

For more information about Miami Childrenís Hospital, visit www.mch.com.
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