Another Health Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate

With great fanfare, the Senate Finance Committee released their version of health reform earlier this week. While the exact bill language is not yet available, a 223 page summary is available here.

Of particular relevance to the Healthy Start network is the proposed creation of a new $1.5 billion funding stream specifically for evidence-based early childhood home visitation programs (see page 69 of the summary). Funding would be awarded to the states to serve communities  that “are at risk for poor maternal and child health and have few quality home visitation programs.”

The home visitation programs supported through this new program would need to show positive impact on maternal and child health, childhood injury prevention, school readiness, juvenile delinquency, family economic factors and coordination with community resources. In addition, the summary makes clear that any home visitation model that receives support would need to be evidence-based, have been in existence for at least three years, be associated with a national organization and evaluated using randomized controlled trials with evaluation results published in a peer-reviewed journal. States would be allowed to use 25% of their funding to support “promising models” that do not meet the requirements listed above.

The Senate Finance Committee plans to mark-up their version of the bill next Tuesday, September 22.  As you know, the Senate Health, Education and Labor (HELP) committee also has jurisdiction over the issue and approved their version of the bill in July. In addition, remember that the House version of health reform, released in June, also proposed an early home visitation program that would be implemented through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

NHSA will continue to follow this issue closely and provide regular updates as the bills move forward in the Senate and House.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

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