Congress Approves Healthy Start Funding

Before leaving town for the summer recess, the House and Senate were both successful at passing the funding bill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The House and the Senate provide nearly identical funding for Healthy Start — $105 million from the House and $105.372 from the Senate. This represents a slight increase over last year’s level of $102 million.   In addition to providing funding for Healthy Start, both the House and Senate included report language that highlights and calls attention to different aspects of the Healthy Start program.

The Senate report states:  The Committee provides $105,372,000 for the healthy start infant mortality initiative. The fiscal year 2009 comparable level was $102,372,000 and the same as the budget request.The healthy start initiative was developed to respond to persistently high rates of infant mortality in this Nation. The initiative was expanded in fiscal year 1994 by a special projects program, which supported an additional seven urban and rural communities to implement infant mortality reduction strategies and interventions. The Children’s Health Act of 2000 fully authorized this initiative as an independent program. The Committee urges HRSA to give preference to current and former grantees with expiring or recently expired project periods.

The House report states:  The Committee provides $105,000,000 for Healthy Start, which is $2,628,000 above the fiscal year 2009 funding level and the budget request. Healthy Start provides discretionary grants to communities with high rates of infant mortality to provide ongoing sources of primary and preventive health care to mothers and their infants. Currently, 102 communities have Healthy Start grants. The increase provided in the bill will support two to three new grants to communities.The National Fetal Infant Mortality Review (NFIMR) program, an important component of many Healthy Start programs, provides evidence-based interventions crucial to improving infant health in high risk communities. The Committee believes HRSA should continue to use Healthy Start funds to support the NFIMR program and that all Healthy Start Programs should be encouraged to implement NFIMR.

A complete copy of the Senate report can be found here.  The House report is found here.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

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