John Schlitt, director of the Pew Home Visiting Campaign, a project of the Pew Center on the States, issued the following statement today, commenting on maternal and infant home visiting provisions included in health care reform legislation as passed by the 111th United States Congress. The bill establishes a $1.5 billion federal grant program for evidence-based state home visitation for new and expectant families.
"States and communities have long-understood the value of voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs, yet often struggle to sustain and expand them. By taking this action, Congress makes good on its commitment to preventive services for Americans and affords an opportunity for states to expand home visiting programs to a greater number of eligible families.
"According to research conducted at RAND, public investment in these programs improves the quality of life for our youngest citizens and, over time, yields significant returns of up to $5.70 per dollar in reduced mental health and criminal justice costs, decreased dependence on welfare and increased participant employment. Families choose to gain access to tools and parenting skills that assure their child's best possible start in the most critical developmental period.
"The results of evidence-based home visitation are clear: fewer young children in our costly social welfare, mental health and juvenile justice systems, and considerable cost savings for states.
"We are encouraged by this positive step and will continue working with congressional leaders to enact Medicaid legislation that creates a sustainable funding source for proven home visiting programs."
Background: H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act establishes a $1.5 billion federal grant program for state-based home visiting programs serving families with young children and families expecting children. The legislation fails to include optional coverage of nurse home visitation services through Medicaid–a provision included in earlier drafts of the bill. These are voluntary, sustained efforts that pair new and expectant families with trained professionals to provide parenting information, resources and support during pregnancy and throughout their child's first three years.
The Pew Home Visiting Campaign, a project of the Pew Center on the States, promotes smart state investments in quality, voluntary home-based programs for new and expectant families.
The Pew Center on the States, a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts, identifies and advocates effective policy approaches to critical issues facing the states. The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.