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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant: Background and Funding

Amalia K. Corby-Edwards
Analyst in Public Health and Epidemiology

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant program, authorized under Title V of the Social Security Act, is a flexible source of funds that states use to support maternal and child health programs. The program provides grants to states and territories to enable them to coordinate programs, develop systems, and provide a broad range of direct health services. In addition to block grants to states, the MCH Services Block Grant includes a set-aside for Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS), and another set-aside for the Community Integrated Service Systems (CISS) program. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers the block grant. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA also receives funding for other maternal and child health programs authorized under both Title V of the Social Security Act and the Public Health Service Act, including maternal and infant home visiting and autism services.

The MCH Services Block Grant received an appropriation of $639 million in FY2012. Of that amount, an estimated $550 million was for block grants to states (86%), $79 million was for SPRANS (12%), and $10 million was for CISS (2%). The President’s budget requested $640 million for the program in FY2013. Funding for the MCH Services Block Grant is discretionary and subject to the annual appropriations process. Full-year appropriations for FY2013 have yet to be enacted and may be subject to sequestration if and when that should take effect. However, a six-month government-wide continuing resolution (CR) was signed into law on September 28, 2012 (P.L. 112-175), which generally maintained funding for discretionary programs at the FY2012 levels, increased by 0.612%.

Title V programs, including the MCH Services Block Grant, serve women and children who are covered by public and private insurance, as well as those who have no insurance coverage. MCH Services Block Grant funds are distributed for the purpose of funding core public health services provided by maternal and child health agencies. These core services are often divided into four categories: infrastructure-building, population-based, enabling, and direct health care. A wide array of programs is supported in each of these categories, including newborn screening, health services for children with special health care needs, and immunization programs. Another main objective of the MCH Services Block Grant is to increase pediatric workforce capacity, and to link low-income children and families to other services and programs, such as Medicaid.

To receive MCH Services Block Grant funds, states are required to (1) conduct a needs assessment every five years; (2) provide an annual report, including program participation data, state maternal and child health measures, and state pediatric and family workforce measures; and (3) ensure that an independent audit is performed every two years. HRSA, in turn, must report to Congress on the activities carried out under the SPRANS and CISS programs, in addition to providing a summary of state reports on block grant activities.

This report provides MCH Services Block Grant background and funding information. It also includes selected program participation data. Selected maternal and child health indicators are presented to provide readers with context on issues that Congress has sought to address through MCH Services Block Grant funding. Although improvement in these measures is an objective of Title V funding, it is important to note that Title V funding is only one component affecting these measures. Other federal and state health and social services and policies, as well as complex societal issues, substantially affect these measures and maternal and child health in general.

Date of Report: January 17, 2013
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R42428
Price: $29.95

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