WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined the full Senate in voting 85-7 to pass the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The bill provides significant support for critical programs and services for New Mexicans, including early childhood development, workforce development, telehealth, medical education, and funds to combat the opioid epidemic. The bill includes major funding for programs championed by Udall and Heinrich that will improve educational opportunities, health outcomes, and economic growth in New Mexico.
Udall, who played a key role in crafting the package as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, applauded the bill’s strong funding for important New Mexico priorities such as job training, child care assistance, and rural and mental health programs including significant resources to combat the opioid epidemic.
“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to have helped craft this bill, which represents a strong step toward ensuring better access to quality health care, education, and jobs for communities all across New Mexico,” said Udall. “It contains important measures to advance medical research, fight the scourge of opioid addiction and help educate, train and develop students and our workforce.”
“I’m especially proud that we secured critical funding for community health centers and rural health programs because Americans, including over 685,000 New Mexicans residing in rural areas, deserve access to affordable care no matter where they live,” Udall continued. “The bill includes significant funding for early childhood education, which will help our kids in New Mexico get ahead. We also worked hard to allocate resources for our many Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Tribal colleges and universities, which are vital to educating and training traditionally underrepresented communities. This package makes critical investments in our health and will go a long way toward helping communities to secure a brighter future for the next generation.”
“We face significant challenges that must be addressed to ensure all of New Mexico's children and families have the opportunity to succeed,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support a number of provisions in this bipartisan funding bill to support education, health care access, and job training. That includes language to expand the use of performance partnerships that help service providers work together with local governments to use proven two-generation strategies to help children and parents reach success together. This bill reinvests in our public schools, community colleges, and universities so that all of our students have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century. I’m proud that the bill also provides new resources for community health centers, rural health providers, and those on the front lines of combatting the opioid epidemic. I commend Senator Udall for standing up for New Mexico priorities through his leadership role on the Appropriations Committee. I will continue to fight alongside him to increase opportunities for all of our families.”
New Mexico priorities that Udall and Heinrich fought to secure include:
Health and Human Services
Fighting the opioid epidemic: $3.7 billion, an increase of $145 million, for treatment, prevention workforce needs and behavioral health. Importantly, the bill includes $120 million in dedicated funding to combat the epidemic in rural, underserved areas.
Reducing Multigenerational Poverty: Includes report language to expand Performance Partnerships to other populations and programs. Performance Partnership Pilots offer a unique opportunity to test innovative, cost-effective, and outcome-focused strategies for improving results for disconnected youth. This legislation requests GAO to explore expanding this program to target other populations. This is part of Senator Heinrich’s initiative to combat poverty through a two-generation approach and targeted family services.
Community Health Centers (CHC): $5.63 billion — $1.63 billion in discretionary funding and $4.0 billion in mandatory funding — for CHCs to provide cost-effective care, including at least $200 million to expand mental health services, and prevention and treatment services for opioid abuse.
CHCs provide affordable, accessible health care for families in over 10,000 communities across the country. In New Mexico alone, our 17 CHCs serve over 320,00 people at 195 sites throughout the state. Udall and Heinrich previously urged Senate leadership to reauthorize funding for CHCs.
National Institutes of Health (NIH): $39.1 billion, an increase of $2 billion for critical research related to Alzheimer’s, opioid addiction and other important initiatives. This includes $361.1 million for the Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA), an increase of $11.3 million over the last fiscal year, which aims to expand the geographic distribution of NIH grants for biomedical research and support medically underserved populations in the United States. Udall also secured report language to encourage the creation of an Opioid Research Center within NIH.
Rural Health Programs: $317 million for rural health care programs, a $26 million increase from fiscal year 2018. The funding is especially important to states like New Mexico, where more than 685,000 people live in rural areas.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC): $105 million for the NHSC, which sends health professionals to underserved areas of the country. The NHSC helps meet the workforce needs of over 240 health center sites across New Mexico. Additionally, the NHSC was given expanded authority to provide loan repayment to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) counselors.
Rural Residency Planning & Development (RRPD): $15 million for fiscal year 2019 to support the expansion of rural primary care residency programs. The RRPD will help to increase the rural physician workforce and extend access to care in more remote regions of the country.
Nursing Workforce: $250 million in funding for Title VIII Nursing programs to support nursing education, incentivize practice in rural communities through loan forgiveness and train nurses to provide quality care for our most vulnerable populations, particularly in traditionally underserved areas.
Community Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG): $747.6 million, an increase of $25 million over fiscal year 2018 levels, for MHBG programs to provide comprehensive community mental health services.
Transparency to Hold Administration Accountable for Family Separation Udall secured a provision that directs HHS to make certain information about migrant children under the care of the department available publicly on its website on a monthly basis, and also to provide weekly public updates on its website of the number of children who have been reunited with separated family members.
Border Health: Udall secured report language urging HHS to continue its efforts to conduct border infectious disease surveillance along the U.S.-Mexico border to identify and implement needed prevention and treatment.
Obstetric Telehealth Udall cosponsored an amendment, which was included in the final package, with Senators Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Murkowski (D-Alaska) to increase access to obstetric telehealth services for pregnant women living in rural areas. The amendment would provide up to $1,000,000 in grants for the purchase and implementation of the necessary technology to provide obstetric telehealth care, such as electronic health records and ultrasounds.
Early Learning/Care: Head Start received a $250 million increase in funding over last year’s fiscal level while the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was level funded at $5.226 billion, maintaining a historic increase from the previous year. Together, these programs help meet the child care needs of working families and support investment in early childhood education.
Tribal Education: $32.4 million for Tribal education, an increase of $695,000 over fiscal year 2018 levels. There are 36 Tribal colleges and universities in the United States, including 3 in New Mexico alone, that would benefit from this funding.
Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI): $125.9 million for HSIs, an increase of $2.7 million over fiscal year 2018 levels, to support institutions of higher education that educates a large share of Hispanic students. New Mexico is home to 23 HSIs.
Impact Aid: $1.439 billion, an increase of $25 million over last year’s levels, for Impact Aid, which compensates school districts for educating students who live on federal lands where many residents are exempt from local property taxes that would traditionally fund these schools. Federal Impact Aid is critical for New Mexico, where many school districts receive funding from the program because they serve the large number of federal military installations and Indian lands in the state.
Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAE): $1.225 billion for SSEA to improve access to a well-rounded education, improve school conditions for learning, and improve the use of technology.
Special Olympics Education Programs (SOE): $17.6 million for SOE programs, an increase of $2.5 million over fiscal year 2018 levels. SOE programs offer training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, serving 4,560 participants at 60 competitions in New Mexico.
Job Corps: $1.72 billion for Job Corps, $15 million more than fiscal year 2018, to expand support for the Nation's largest and most comprehensive residential education and job training program for at-risk youth, including at Centers in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Roswell. The Senate rejected the Administration’s proposal to cut the program by $422 million, or 25 percent.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Grants to States: $2.8 billion for the WIOA formula grants, level with fiscal year 2018, to support for our national workforce system and help approximately 20 million people each year look for work, train for in-demand careers, and connect with local employers ready to hire. The Senate rejected the Administration’s proposal to cut these grants by $80 million.
Veterans Employment and Training Services: $300 million for veterans training programs, an increase of $5 million over fiscal year 2018, to provide veterans the supportive services they need to re-enter the labor force, including job training and placement, career counseling, resume preparation and other supportive services.
Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health Udall secured report language expressing concern about vacancies on the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health. Specifically, it directs the Department of Labor to ensure that the Board has sufficient funding and staff.
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): $1 billion, rejecting the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the agency. By mobilizing public and private support CNCS harnesses the energy and ingenuity of New Mexico residents to tackle our most persistent and costly challenges. AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other CNCS programs are instrumental in strengthening our economy, rebuilding communities after disasters, and delivering essential services to children, seniors, veterans, and those in need.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB): $445 million, the same as the current level for CPB, to support a healthy and vibrant network of public media stations across the country, rejecting the President’s budget proposal to end this investment. The federal appropriation supports more than 1,400 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations that serve almost 99 percent of the American population living in rural and urban communities across all 50 states, including KNME and New Mexico public radio stations around the state.
Social Security Administration (SSA): $12.95 billion for Social Security’s administrative budget, including an increase of $115 million in SSA’s base operations budget to provide for essential services around the country including at SSA’s call center in New Mexico.