Author Archive

Health Reform and Healthy Start

Prevention and Public Health Fund — The health care reform law includes $500 million in fiscal year 2010 for a Prevention and Public Health Fund.  This funding must be spent on prevention and wellness programs authorized by the Public Health Service Act, such as Healthy Start.  NHSA is asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use a portion of this funding to strengthen existing Healthy Start programs and to expand Healthy Start into areas that are eligible for funding but currently unfunded.  The Fund will continue to grow each year, eventually reaching $2 billion in fiscal year 2014 and each year thereafter.

Home Visiting — The new law also provides $100 million in fiscal year 2010 for states to implement evidence-based maternal, infant and early childhood home visitation programs.  Grantees are required to measure improvement in maternal and child health, childhood injury prevention, school readiness and achievement, crime or domestic violence, family economic self-sufficiency and coordination with community resources. The first step in this progress will be for states to complete a needs assessment to identify communities that have few quality home visitation program and are at risk for poor maternal and child health outcomes. NHSA encourages Healthy Start projects to contact their state MCH office and learn how the state is planning to conduct the needs assessment.

25 U.S. Senators and 25 Members of U.S. House Sign Letter in Support of Healthy Start

We are extremely pleased to report that 25 U.S. Senators and 25 Members of the U.S. House signed onto an appropriations letter in support of increased funding for Healthy Start.   The letter, delivered to the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate early last week, requests $120 million in funding for the Healthy Start program.  Healthy Start is currently funded at $105 million. A list of the 25 Senators and 25 House Members who signed the letter are found at the bottom of this message.

Last year, 19 Senators signed the Senate letter and 19 House Members signed the House version of the letter. The additional signatures this year are directly attributed to the time spent on Capitol Hill during the NHSA Spring Conference in March.  Conference participants, including Healthy Start project directors, staff and consumers, participated in literally hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill and encouraged federal lawmakers to sign the letter.

An email sent to NHSA earlier this week from Senator Debbie Stabenow’s staff stated, “We got a total of six more signatures on the Healthy Start letter this year.  Many of the Congressional offices mentioned how persuasive your advocates were in their Hill visits, so the credit should really go to them!”  Senator Stabenow of Michigan and Senator Bond of Missouri were the two Senators who organized and spearheaded the letter in the Senate and Representative John Spratt of South Carolina led the effort in the House.

This letter of support represents the very first step in the appropriations process, but it is an extremely important way to show the Appropriations Committees that Healthy Start has strong support and deserves to be strengthened and expanded.

If you see your Senator or Representative listed below, PLEASE take a moment and send their office a short note.

Senators:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Sen. Tom Udall (New Mexico)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)
Sen. Russ Feingold (Wisconsin)
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico)
Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon)
Sen. Chris Dodd (Connecticut)
Sen. Richard Durbin (Illinois)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (New York)
Sen. John Kerry (Mass.)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey)
Sen. Robert Menendez (New Jersey)
Sen. Roland Burris (Illinois)
Sen. Al Franken (Minnesota)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii)
Sen. Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia)
Sen. Bob Casey (Pennsylvania)
Sen. Barbra Miklulski (Maryland)
Sen. Carl Levin (Michigan)
Sen. Tim Johnson (South Dakota)
Sen. Ben Cardin (Maryland)
Sen. Kit Bond (Missouri)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow  (Michigan)

House Members:

Rep. John Spratt (South Carolina)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (Arizona)
Rep. Michael Capuano (Massachusetts)
Rep. Gene Greene (Texas)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii)
Rep. Rush Holt (New Jersey)
Rep. Bobby Scott (Virginia)
Rep. Steve Kagen (Wisconsin)
Rep. Dennis Moore (Kansas)
Rep. John Yarmouth (Kentucky)
Rep. Steven Cohen (Tennessee)
Rep. George Butterfield (North Carolina)
Rep. Kathy Castor (Florida)
Rep. Jason Altmire (Pennsylvania)
Rep. Pete Stark (California)
Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (Massachusetts)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Maryland)
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colorado)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (New York)
Rep. Danny Davis (Illinois)
Rep. Vern Ehlers (Michigan)
Rep. Bob Filner (California)
Rep. Andre Carson (Indiana)

Man Up for Your Health!

Healthy Men Move Our Communities Forward

As an annual celebration of National Minority Health Month, in 2010 the Office of Minority Health is promoting men’s health, with the theme Man Up for Your Health! Healthy Men Move Our Communities Forward.

A glance at some sobering statistics:

  • 55 percent of Latino men and 45 percent of African American men do not have a doctor they see regularly
  • In 2005, all men were 30 percent more likely to be uninsured for the previous year, as compared to women
    • Within this group, African American men were 75 percent more likely to be uninsured than White men, and Hispanic men were almost three times more likely to be without health insurance
  • For the first time in 2007 the life expectancy for black males reached 70 years, however that is still 5.3 years less than the general population
  • Black men have higher death rates than women for all the leading causes of death
  • Black men have higher rates of prostate cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and other chronic illnesses
  • Men are employed in the most dangerous occupations, such as mining, fire fighting, construction, and fishing
  • Society discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys
  • Men may have less healthy lifestyles including risk-taking at younger ages
  • Among the causes of death for white males, homicide is not even in the top ten; however it is ranked number 5 for black men and number 6 for Latinos
    • For young black men 15-35 years of age, homicide is the number one cause of death, for Hispanics, it’s number two

OMH monthly e-newsletter Healthy Minorities, Healthier America highlights important information such as Popular Men’s Health Topics, medical screenings, resources for organizations, downloadable posters and upcoming events. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to subscribe to OMH monthly publications or help get the word out by sharing this information with your constituents.

View latest edition: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=297

To subscribe OMH e-newsletter: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=48

or through Gov delivery:  https://service.govdelivery.com/service/multi_subscribe.html?code=USOPHSOMH

You can follow OMH on Twitter at http://twitter.com/omhgov

– circulated by the Office of Minority Health

US House Passes Health Care Reform

The House last night voted 219-212 to adopt Senate-passed health care reform legislation, paving the way for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system after a year of debate. As part of the two-bill reconciliation strategy, the House also passed a package of “fixes” to the Senate bill with reconciliation instructions.

The bill, headed immediately to the President’s desk, includes many provisions that are important for Healthy Start coalitions, including:

  • Prevention and Wellness fund  — Provides $15 billion over 10 years ($500 million in fiscal year 2010, $750 million for fiscal year 2011 and ramping up to $2 billion in fiscal year 2015) for new Prevention and Wellness Fund.  The Fund will support programs authorized by the Public Health Service Act, such as Healthy Start, for prevention wellness and public health activities.
  • Home Visitation – Provides $1.5 billion over 5 years ($100 million in fiscal year 2010 and building up to $400 million in FY 2014) for states to provide evidence-based maternal, infant and early childhood home visitation programs.  Grantees are required to measure improvement in maternal and child health, childhood injury prevention, school readiness and achievement, crime or domestic violence, family economic self-sufficiency and coordination with community resources. States will be required to complete a needs assessment to identify communities that have few quality home visitation program and are at risk for poor maternal and child health outcomes.
  • Tobacco Cessation for Pregnant Women in Medicaid – Requires States to provide Medicaid coverage for counseling and smoking cessation services to pregnant women.
  • Community Transformation Grants – Authorizes CDC to award competitive grants to state and local government agencies and community-based organizations for the implementation community preventive health activities in order to reduce chronic disease and address health disparities.
  • National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council – Establishes a council to create a national strategy and goals related to improving health through federally-supported prevention, health promotion and public health programs.
  • Diabetes Prevention — Establishes a national diabetes prevention program. The program at CDC will make grants to implement community-based diabetes prevention model sites and programs, and includes mechanisms for training, recognition, evaluation, technical assistance and research.
  • Effectiveness of Federal Health and Wellness Initiatives – Requires the Secretary of HHS to evaluate all existing Federal health and wellness initiatives, including Healthy Start and report to congress concerning the evaluation.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation tomorrow (which is the same bill that passed the Senate in December). As part of the two-bill reconciliation strategy, the House also passed a package of “fixes” to the Senate bill with reconciliation instructions. The reconciliation package now moves to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has assured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he has enough votes for the simple majority needed under reconciliation to clear the bill. Despite the inability to filibuster the package, Senate Republicans are still expected to employ procedural tactics and offer numerous amendments in efforts to stall the bill. The Senate will likely take up health reconciliation legislation on Tuesday with the goal of completing before the end of this week (as Easter recess begins on Friday).

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

National Effort to Reduce the Risk of Stillbirth

First Candle and the National Healthy Start Association are partnering in an effort to improve birth outcomes. Kicks Count!, a health education campaign launched by First Candle, is designed to educate expectant parents and providers about the value of monitoring fetal movement to reduce the risk of stillbirth. The campaign was implemented in response to the more than 25,000 stillbirths that occur in the US each year.  Healthy Start home visiting programs around the country are taking the lead in sharing crucial Kicks Count brochures to their clients. The brochures are comprehensive, including information on how to perform a kick count, what parent’s should do if they have concerns about their baby’s movement, and general messages about good prenatal care and identifying premature labor. First Candle and the NHSA are excited to be working with the Healthy Start projects to help babies reach their first birthday. Learn more about Kicks Count! by visiting First Candle’s website, http://www.firstcandle.org/ or call Dana Kaplin at 1-800-221-7437 ext. 236.

First Candle is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating Stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) with programs of research, education and advocacy. The Kicks Count campaign is supported by All Baby and Child (ABC).

Healthy Start Projects Prepare for Capitol Hill

Healthy Start Projects and friends are preparing to head to Washington, DC for the NHSA 11th Annual Spring Conference! During their visit, members and families will take time to visit their Senators and Representatives to discuss the importance of supporting Healthy Start Programs.  NHSA has developed a 9 minute video for projects to use in preparation for their visits, and it is shared below:

*We suggest after clicking play,  pause the video to allow time for it to load/buffering.

Health Care Meeting Set for Thursday

President Obama has called for a bipartisan meeting to discuss health care.  The meeting will be held on Thursday, February 25 and streamed live in its entirety at WhiteHouse.gov.  Here are  useful links to information regarding the President’s health care proposal released Monday morning, as well as to information regarding Thursday’s meeting:

1.       The President’s Proposal – http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/proposal

2.       Thursday’s bicameral bipartisan meeting at Blair House – http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting.

The President’s proposal builds off of the Senate health reform bill and includes a strong emphasis on disease prevention, wellness and public health activities.  As you may recall, the Senate proposal included the establishment of a home visitation program ($1.5 billion over 5 years) and a ‘Prevention and Public Health Fund’ ($7 billion over five years) that would support programs authorized by the Public Health Services Act including Healthy Start.  NHSA will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that the new prevention and wellness programs are directed specifically on reducing infant mortality, reducing the incidence of low birthweight babies and eliminating racial disparities in perinatal outcomes.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

White House Proposes $5M Healthy Start Increase

On Monday, President Obama released his proposed budget for 2011. The budget includes a $110 million request for Healthy Start. This represents a $5 million increase over the current funding level. There’s also a proposed $11 million increase for the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant. The budget is only a proposal by the White House, and Congress is responsible for passing a final budget.

You can find more detailed information on the website for the Office of Management and Budget, including a detailed breakdown of the budget and a message from the President.

We will continue to keep you abreast of the progress of the President’s budget as information arises.

Welcome to 2010!

2009 was an exciting year for the world and in MCH! We inaugurated the first African-American president of the United States, and the Healthy Start Initiative received an increase in funding by $2.6 million. Sierra Leone experienced a drop in maternal deaths and Madison, Wisconsin has lowered their infant mortality rates. These are invigorating achievements! We need to use this momentum to achieve even more in 2010, because there is much work to be done.

President Obama has made healthcare for everyone a national debate and a priority on his agenda. As members of the MCH community, it’s our responsibility to make sure women and children are part of the conversation. As part of our effort, NHSA is hosting our 11th Annual Spring Conference, Fulfilling Our Vision: Healthy Babies From The Start, in March here in Washington, DC. The conference will give MCH professionals and Healthy Start Consumers the opportunity not only to attend dynamic sessions, but we will also be hosting a rally and visits to Capitol Hill. Conference attendees will be encouraged to visit with their legislators to let them know how important Maternal and Child Health issues are and to thank them for all the hard work they’ve been doing in the last year. We invite you to visit our website for more information and to register for the conference!

This year and coming decade hold limitless possibilities for the MCH community, and we hope you share in our enthusiasm to continue this very important work!

Healthy Start Funded at $105 million in final appropriations bill

On Wednesday, President Obama signed into law a package of spending bills that provide $446.8 billion to programs and agencies across the federal government.  Included in this bill was $105 million for Healthy Start.  This represents a $2.6 million increase over last year’s level.  The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant was flat-funded at the same amount as last year:  $662 million.  The overall budget for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at HRSA increased a modest $10 million (this includes the $2.6 million increase for Healthy Start).   Despite the increase for Healthy Start, there remains tremendous amount of work to be done educating lawmakers and their staff about the importance of providing services and support to mothers and babies.

For a complete summary of provisions related to the Department of Health and Human Services, click here.

The National Healthy Start Association will spend the upcoming days sending letters of appreciation to our friends on Capitol Hill who supported our funding increase.  If you know that your Senator or Member of Congress played a role in this achievement, please take a moment to send an email of appreciation to a staff member.  In a few short months, we will be back on Capitol Hill asking for continued support to ensure that our programs are fully funded and our consumers receive the support that they deserve.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC