President's Infrastructure Outline Leaked

Issue Brief 18-03
January 25, 2018

On January 22, Politico published a leaked document outlining the administration’s plan to spur investment in the nation’s infrastructure. While the document is unofficial, it provides a relatively detailed preview of a major infrastructure plan the administration is expected to announce on or about January 30.

This Issue Brief summarizes its provisions.

Agencies Award Funds to Address Opioid Epidemic

Issue Brief 18-02
January 18, 2018

Funding to address the opioid epidemic totaled more than $1.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017. The grants are administered by the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice (DOJ). This Issue Brief provides an overview of the programs and funds awarded to date. 

This report is accompanied by a spreadsheet (available on our website to FFIS database subscribers) that provides HHS and DOJ awards by state for FY 2016 and FY 2017.

Interior Announces FY 2017 Minerals Payments

Issue Brief 18-01
January 4, 2018

Under provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), states receive a share of revenues from the production of mineral resources on federal lands. On November 30, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced $1.44 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017 payments to states, an 8.4% increase from the prior year.


Impact of 2017 Population Estimates on Bond Caps and SSBG Allocations

Issue Brief 17-41
December 21, 2017

On December 20, the U.S. Census Bureau released state resident population estimates for July 2017 and revised data for prior years. The new data identify population shifts and affect certain formulas.

The U.S. population continues to grow at a historically slow rate, with an increase of 0.72% in 2017. Idaho was the fastest-growing state, at 2.2%. Eight states and Puerto Rico registered population declines.

This Issue Brief summarizes the new population estimates and calculates their effect on calendar year (CY) 2018 tax-exempt private activity bond limitations and fiscal year (FY) 2019 Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) allocations.

ACA Health Insurer Tax Reinstated in 2018

Issue Brief 17-40
December 7, 2017

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created an annual fee on certain health insurance providers, referred to as the health insurer tax. Congress suspended the tax for calendar year (CY) 2017. Under current law, it will be reinstated on January 1, 2018. Because Medicaid managed-care rates must factor in the tax, Medicaid costs associated with it are estimated to increase $4.8 billion in 2018. 

ESSA in Practice

Issue Brief 17-39
December 1, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, P.L. 114-95) was enacted in late 2015, as the first comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since 2001.

Fiscal year (FY) 2017 is the first to appropriate funding using ESSA funding authorizations. However, appropriators are not bound to adhere to these authorizations, and ultimately deviated from them in many ways—declining to fund some new programs, and appropriating differing amounts for many others.

This Issue Brief compares FY 2017 appropriations for ESEA programs against their authorized funding levels in ESSA, as well as against appropriations for FY 2016, the last year before ESSA’s authorizations took effect.

CMS Publishes FY 2017 Medicaid DSH Allotments

Issue Brief 17-38
November 17, 2017

On November 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a notice in the Federal Register that provides preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2017 disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments, and final FY 2015 allotments. (Preliminary FY 2016 allotments were released October 2016.)

Overall, the preliminary FY 2017 DSH allotments are $107 million (0.9%) more than FY 2016. Initially, states expected to see significant reductions in DSH payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning in FY 2014. These cuts have been delayed multiple times, most recently until FY 2018. The House recently passed legislation to eliminate the reductions in FY 2018 and FY 2019, but the Senate has yet to act.

House Extends Funding for CHIP, HHS Programs

Issue Brief 17-37
November 13, 2017

On November 3, the House passed the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922), which combined and slightly modified two committee-passed bills to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other programs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that expired September 30.

Because of offsets affecting Medicare, Medicaid, and the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), the legislation did not receive broad bipartisan support. The full Senate has yet to consider its CHIP bill (KIDS Act, S. 1827), and has not taken action to extend funding for other HHS programs.

Opioids Declared a Public Health Emergency

Issue Brief 17-36
November 3, 2017

The president directed the acting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. This Issue Brief discusses implications for funding and flexibility, as well as actions the administration plans to take.

Newborn Hearing Screening Reauthorized

Issue Brief 17-35
November 2, 2017

On October 18, the president signed into law the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-71), which reauthorizes the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) program through fiscal year (FY) 2022, and expands the program to include young children. It also reauthorizes funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to make grants and provide technical assistance to states to support screening and surveillance activities.

This Issue Brief provides a summary of the law.

Modest Growth in CY 2018 Clawback Payments

Issue Brief 17-34
October 27, 2017

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently notified states of next year’s clawback charges—the cost-sharing payments to the federal government for the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The CMS release indicates that the per-beneficiary monthly clawback charge to states will increase by 1.22% in calendar year (CY) 2018—the same increase announced earlier this year because no additional adjustments were required.

This modest growth follows two years of double-digit increases, and is likely due to slowing use of expensive specialty drugs (such as those for Hepatitis C). Based on this increase, FFIS estimates that state payments will total $11.3 billion in CY 2018, an $87 million (0.8%) increase from CY 2017.  

HHS Announces LIHEAP Awards

Issue Brief 17-33
October 25, 2017

On October 20, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $3 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funds under the continuing resolution (CR). These initial awards represent approximately 90% of LIHEAP’s annualized funding under the CR.

House Passes Home Visiting Reauthorization

Issue Brief 17-32
October 19, 2017

Mandatory funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program expired September 30. On September 26, the House passed the Increasing Opportunity and Success for Children and Parents through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act (H.R. 2824) to extend funding through fiscal year (FY) 2022. The legislation makes a number of changes to the program, including a new state matching requirement. The Senate has not yet considered legislation, although a bill has been introduced and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Update on CHIP Funding Extension

Issue Brief 17-31
October 16, 2017

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired September 30. On October 4, the Senate Finance Committee approved the Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act (KIDS Act, S. 1827). The House Energy and Commerce Committee also approved its bill—the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act (HEALTHY KIDS Act, H.R. 3921).

Both bills would extend funding for CHIP and related programs through fiscal year (FY) 2022, and maintain the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 23-percentage-point increase in the enhanced federal matching rate through FY 2019. However, the House bill incorporates provisions not in the Senate bill, including offsets, eliminating Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) cuts for FY 2018 (but extending the cuts for two years), and providing Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The full House was expected to consider its bill last week, but action has been delayed due to bipartisan negotiations around offsets. In the meantime, the administration announced that it is distributing $230 million in unspent prior-year funds to five states and four territories expected to run out of funding for CHIP shortly.

States Must Apply for VW Settlement Funds

Issue Brief 17-30
October 13, 2017

On October 2, 2017, the federal government formally established two  environmental mitigation trusts that will distribute more than $2.9 billion to states and tribes over the coming years based on a settlement with Volkswagen (VW) over Clean Air Act violations. The formal establishment of the trust begins a 60-day period during which states must elect to become beneficiaries, so they can receive compensation funding.

This brief describes how states can apply, eligible activities, and other information related to the trusts.

House Committee Reauthorizes Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

Issue Brief 17-29
October 6, 2017

On July 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced the Drinking Water Systems Improvement Act (H.R 3387), which invests in the modernization of water infrastructure, seeks to improve systems to ensure compliance with drinking water quality standards, and authorizes or reauthorizes a number of grant programs. A date has not been set for consideration by the full House, but the bill has bipartisan support.

This brief describes major provisions of the House bill.  

Performance Bonuses Examined as SNAP Reauthorization Looms

Issue Brief 17-28
October 3, 2017

The Senate agriculture committee recently held a hearing on error rates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), focusing on problems in the review process that led to inaccurate reporting of payment accuracy rates. Performance bonuses for FY 2016 have been suspended as a result—a potential loss to states of -$48 million—and several states are under investigation by the Department of Justice.


FY 2019 FMAPs Set to Increase Markedly in Nine States

Issue Brief 17-27
September 27, 2017

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released state personal income data that facilitate calculation of the final fiscal year (FY) 2019 reimbursement rate for Medicaid and certain other grant programs—the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) uses an enhanced FMAP, which is higher than the Medicaid matching rate.

This Issue Brief summarizes the BEA data and provides FFIS’s estimates of the final FY 2019 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs. 

Juvenile Justice Reauthorization Revisited

Issue Brief 17-26
September 21, 2017

The Senate has passed S. 860, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill would reauthorize and amend federal juvenile justice programs for five years. This Issue Brief compares it to the current House proposalhighlighting provisions of interest to states.

Senate Committee Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Extend CHIP Funding

Issue Brief 17-25
September 20, 2017

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to expire September 30. This week, the Senate Finance Committee introduced bipartisan legislation—Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act (KIDS Act, S. 1927)—to extend funding for five years. The bill maintains the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 23-percentage-point increase in the enhanced federal matching rate through fiscal year (FY) 2019. 

Housing Trust Fund Update

Issue Brief 17-24
September 7, 2017

On June 23, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $219 million from the Housing Trust Fund (HTF), to improve the supply of affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households. This Issue Brief provides background on the HTF and a breakdown of fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding allocations by state.

DHS Reauthorization Update

Issue Brief 17-23
August 31, 2017

On July 20, the House passed the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2825). If enacted, the bipartisan bill would be the first reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security since its establishment in 2002.

DSH Reductions to Take Effect in FY 2018

Issue Brief 17-22
August 17, 2017

The Affordable Care (ACA) reduced Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) allotments on the assumption that there would be fewer uninsured people and less uncompensated care with the expansion of health care coverage. These cuts—initially scheduled to begin in fiscal year (FY) 2014—have been delayed repeatedly but are effective in FY 2018. On July 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that outlines the methodology for implementing the annual reductions, which total $2 billion in FY 2018. 

Administration Puts Teeth into Sanctuary Cities Policy via JAG Solicitation

Issue Brief 17-21
August 4, 2017

On July 25, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released its fiscal year (FY) 2017 state solicitation for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG). The announcement included state allocations.

As the largest and most flexible grant in the DOJ arsenal, JAG has become the go-to grant for attaching requirements and sanctions related to federal criminal justice legislation. Accordingly, states will now need to certify compliance with federal immigration notification requirements to receive FY 2017 JAG funds. This Issue Brief describes the new requirement and provides the FY 2017 state allocations.

CHIP Deadline Fast Approaching

Issue Brief 17-20
July 28, 2017

Under current law, there are no appropriations for new Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allotments after fiscal year (FY) 2017. Absent congressional action, most states will exhaust existing federal funds during the first half of FY 2018. Moreover, state coverage requirements and fiscal impacts will vary based on the type of program a state operates.

This Issue Brief discusses the current financing of CHIP, implications of expiring funding, and recent proposals. 

Interior Announces FY 2017 PILT Payments

Issue Brief 17-19
July 12, 2017

On June 26, 2017, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced $464.6 million in payments to counties under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year (FY) 2017. These payments compensate local governments—usually counties—for property tax revenue that would otherwise be collected on non-taxable land owned by the federal government.

The FY 2017 PILT payments are the largest amount ever allocated, and represent a 2.9% increase over FY 2016. This Issue Brief provides background on PILT and details on the FY 2017 payments.

TANF Extension, Reductions, and Updates

Issue Brief 17-18
June 30, 2017

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-31) extended Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) through fiscal year (FY) 2018. However, it included a new set-aside, which reduces state block grant allotments by $55 million annually in FY 2017 and FY 2018.

In addition, Congress and the president have proposed changes to TANF. The House recently passed legislation to create a subsidized employment demonstration program for TANF recipients and transfer $100 million from the TANF contingency fund to pay for it. The president’s FY 2018 budget proposed to eliminate the TANF contingency fund altogether, and reduce the TANF block grant by -10%.  

HHS Releases Remaining LIHEAP Funds

Issue Brief 17-17
June 16, 2017

On June 13, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the remaining $378 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funds. States received an initial release of $3 billion in October 2016. Although LIHEAP was level-funded in FY 2017, some states saw significant funding changes. 

DHS Announces FY 2017 Preparedness Grants

Issue Brief 17-16
June 9, 2017

On June 2, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding notices for the following preparedness grant programs:

  • Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), including:

    • State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP)

    • Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)

    • Operation Stonegarden

  • Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)

  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program

  • Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Amtrak)

  • Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP)

  • Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)

  • Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)

  • Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG)

Funding for the programs listed above totals approximately $1.6 billion, and is a slight increase from FY 2016. Fifty-state allocations were released for two programs (SHSGP and EMPG), and local allocations were released for UASI.

FTA Releases Positive Train Control Funding

Issue Brief 17-15
June 8, 2017

On May 31, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $197 million in Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation grants to transportation departments and other agencies in 13 states. The grants are provided from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), under a one-time authorization in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. This Issue Brief provides background on PTC funding and a summary of the recent awards.

FHWA Releases Emergency Relief Funds

Issue Brief 17-14
April 24, 2017

On April 6, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released $670 million in FHWA Emergency Relief (ER) funds to 40 states. This is in addition to $34 million already released this year.

The ER program supports repair work on federal-aid highways damaged by disasters. This Issue Brief provides a summary of the ER program, and state-level funding since fiscal year (FY) 2012.

Clawback Payments to Stabilize in CY 2018

Issue Brief 17-13
April 12, 2017

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the parameters that will guide calendar year (CY) 2018 individual and state costs for the Medicare Part D drug benefit. CMS projects a 3.94% increase in per capita Part D expenditures. After accounting for prior-year downward revisions, the annual percentage increase is 1.22%. This modest growth rate follows two years of double-digit increases, and is likely due to the slowing use of expensive specialty drugs (such as those for Hepatitis C).  

The release of the annual percentage increase, enrollment data for persons dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and FFIS projections of Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAPs) for fiscal year (FY) 2019, allow for preliminary estimates of state clawback costs for CY 2018. Based on the projections, CY 2018 clawbacks are estimated to cost states $11.3 billion, a 0.8% ($89 million) increase from CY 2017. 

Block Grants: Past, Present, and Future

Issue Brief 17-12
April 11, 2017

During the House debate around repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a provision was added allowing states to participate in an optional block grant for certain Medicaid participants. While the bill was pulled from the House floor, converting all or part of Medicaid into a block grant is not a new idea. Medicaid and other major open-ended mandatory programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and child nutrition programs, have all been recommended for conversion into block grants in recent years.

This Issue Brief provides context for these and other proposals by examining block grants as a subdivision of federal grant funding. It also highlights recent proposals affecting block grants.

FY 2019 FMAP Projections

Issue Brief 17-11
March 29, 2017

On March 28, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released preliminary state personal income and per capita income data for 2016. The federal government uses state per capita income to calculate each state’s reimbursement rate—the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)—for Medicaid and other grant programs. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) uses an enhanced FMAP, which is higher than the Medicaid matching rate.

The BEA release facilitates projections of fiscal year (FY) 2019 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs, which are based on per capita incomes for calendar years 2014-2016. FFIS estimates that FMAPs will increase in 25 states and decline in 11 states. However, these projections are based on preliminary data, and subsequent adjustments can have a large impact on final FMAPs.    

House Health Care Bill Amends ACA and Restructures Medicaid

Issue Brief 17-10
March 16, 2017

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee approved their legislative proposals for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through reconciliation. The bill, entitled the American Health Care Act, makes many changes to the ACA—focusing on insurance affordability, individual and employer mandates, and taxes. It also significantly alters federal financing of Medicaid.  

FEMA Expands its Disaster Deductible Concept

Issue Brief 17-09
March 6, 2017

In January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM) elaborating on the concept of an annual “disaster deductible,” which states would be required to satisfy before receiving certain forms of federal disaster assistance. The SANPRM builds on an earlier proposal (ANPRM) that was released in January 2016. It provides greater detail on the disaster deductible concept, but still does not constitute a formal proposal. 

Unfunded Mandates Revisited

Issue Brief 17-08
February 21, 2017

Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) conducted a review of its activities under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). This Issue Brief reports CBO’s findings, summarizes major provisions of UMRA, and examines two Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on potential improvements to UMRA. 

An In-Depth Look at Health Care Reform Funding

Issue Brief 17-07
February 16, 2017

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included many new grants and funding streams. It also reauthorized and provided funding for a number of existing programs. In general, the grants fall into one of the following categories:

  • No longer funded—These programs received an appropriation in the ACA, but the funding period has ended or the funds have been exhausted (e.g., Premium Review Grants and Health Insurance Exchange Planning Grants).

  • Subsequently extended—These programs received an appropriation in the ACA, and Congress extended the funding in subsequent legislation (e.g., Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, and Health Profession Opportunity Grants).

  • Funded from permanent ACA appropriations—These programs received funding from ongoing ACA funding streams, with the two major ones being the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (the Innovation Center).  

ACA also made major reforms to Medicaid that were accompanied by increases in federal funding, including the eligibility expansion for adults, and other eligibility and benefit enhancements.

This Issue Brief takes an in-depth look at the funding provided by the ACA, and provides state allocations for many ACA programs.     

House, President Bring New Scrutiny to Regulations and Rulemaking

Issue Brief 17-06
February 3, 2017

In the first month of the 115th Congress, the House passed five bills to reform the executive branch regulatory and rulemaking process, one of which has since become law. At the same time, the new administration has issued numerous executive orders and memoranda, two of which have implications for regulation and rulemaking. This Issue Brief summarizes these legislative and executive actions.

Update: A memorandum containing implementation guidance on the executive order entitled "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs" was issued on February 2.

Executive Order on Sanctuary Cities Raises Many Questions, Answers Few

Issue Brief 17-05
February 2, 2017

The president released an executive order on January 25, entitled, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. The order directs executive departments and agencies “to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.” The order includes some provisions that could affect state and local governments, such as:

  • sanctions against jurisdictions that fail to comply with federal immigration laws

  • the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration officers

  • authorizing state and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration officers

  • regular reports on incarcerated aliens

This Issue Brief focuses on issues raised by certain provisions of the order.

Interior Announces FY 2017 Abandoned Mine Funding

Issue Brief 17-04
January 27, 2017

On January 6, the Department of the Interior awarded nearly $181 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) reclamation grants to 25 states and three tribes. AML funding helps states eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by abandoned coal mines.

This Issue Brief provides background on AML grants and a breakdown of recent funding distributions.

EPA Launches Water Infrastructure Program

Issue Brief 17-03
January 18, 2017

On January 10, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $1 billion in loans for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), financed by a $20 million appropriation in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 continuing resolution (CR). WIFIA is a credit assistance program providing direct loans and loan guarantees to states and other entities for water infrastructure projects. This Issue Brief provides a summary of the WIFIA program and the application process for the new funds.

The WIIN Act: A WRDA by Any Other Name

Issue Brief 17-02
January 12, 2017

On December 16, the president signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act (P.L. 114-322). The legislation authorizes new Army Corps of Engineers projects, amends programs related to water infrastructure, creates new grant programs, and authorizes emergency assistance to communities facing drinking water contamination. This Issue Brief highlights provisions of particular interest to states.

Justice for All Reauthorization Becomes Law

Issue Brief 17-01
January 12, 2017

Last month, the president signed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-324). The bill amends several laws, programs, and provisions, as follows:

  • It amends the Justice for All Act of 2004, the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004, and the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, to reauthorize several grants; gives preference to some grant applicants; and directs the National Institute of Justice to establish best practices for evidence retention.
  • It also specifies that certain funds be allocated for testing and auditing backlogged rape kits; amends the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA); and requires applications for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) funds to include a strategic plan to improve administration of criminal justice.

This Issue Brief focuses on the provisions that affect state grant programs.