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)
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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

Text4Baby Launches Today: NHSA Announced as an Outreach Partner

Today was a great day in the world of maternal and child health! A historic day as well with the launch of Text4Baby, a free mobile health service for soon-to-be moms and new moms.

A partnership between the technology industry, government and the health community, Text4Baby is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) that will  deliver timely health tips via text message to those who need it most.  Partners include the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Voxiva, CTIA-The Wireless Foundation, Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company) and founding corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson.  Premier sponsors include WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and wireless carriers are distributing text messages at no charge to recipients.  Implementation partners include BabyCenter, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems and The George Washington University.

This is a great opportunity to not only showcase the success of public-private partnerships, but also demonstrate how utilizing technology can help mothers and pregnant women make informed decisions about their health and the healthy of their baby.  Text4Baby is going to be critical to the health of our country for so many reasons:

  • By using text messaging on cell phones, this partnership uses a technology that has already been widely adopted. Research shows that 90 percent of Americans have a mobile phone, and texting is more prevalent among women of childbearing age and minority populations who face higher infant mortality rates.
  • It provides the information moms need to keep themselves and their babies healthy. These are short messages, but incredibly important.  The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, smoking and alcohol, oral health, and safe sleep.
  • It could help save lives and reduce the number of premature births in America. More than 500,000 babies – 1 in every 8 – are born prematurely each year in the US.  Premature babies can face lifelong health and intellectual development problems.  The risk of premature birth can be reduced if moms take care of themselves and their babies during pregnancy (e.g. don’t smoke!) and seek prenatal care.  Text4Baby can help by giving moms information and connecting them to care.
  • It could save America money on health care costs. This free service could save us money by ensuring moms are connected to health knowledge and services as early as possible.  Catching problems early can help avoid expensive and potentially harmful complications at birth and in the first year of life.  This helps families as well – the average first year medical costs for premature babies are about 10 times greater than for full-term babies.

The National Healthy Start Association is proud to be one of the many outreach partners for this Initiative including the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, March of Dimes, American Public Health Association, National Association of County and City Health Officials,  National WIC Association and Postpartum Support International.

We just ask that you spread the word about Text4Baby and encourage women you know to sign up on the website (www.text4baby.org) for free or text BABY to 511411!