The House today approved a Medicare bill that included a two-year extension of Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), a Department of Health and Human Services program that was created by the Affordable Care Act and began in 2010.
The program has little to do with Medicare. But as often happens these days in Washington, its reauthorization has been a can kicked down the road. And as we reported earlier this week, this can’s perishable date is now upon us: March 31, 2015.
The Senate has yet to vote on a companion bill, and it is uncertain whether it will include a similar extension for MIECHV. A vote could come tonight, tomorrow, or after the upcoming Congressional recess.
MIECHV funding for 2015 is not in jeopardy, because it has all been disbursed. Once an extension didn’t make it into last year’s budget agreement, Youth Services Insider is sure that HHS couldn’t get the money out the door fast enough.
But failure to extend MIECHV would jeopardize the funding for 2016. What impact would that have on the field of home visitation? We recently asked Roxane White, CEO of the Nurse-Family Partnership, that question.
NFP is perhaps the most renowned of the 17 home visitation models permitted under MIECHV funding. Her answer floored us.
“We would lose at least half, if not two-thirds, of NFP providers,” White said.
MIECHV funds represent about 25 percent of the annual money spent on NFP operation, White said. “But those funds are huge for leveraging other resources. Hospitals will host us, it has drawn in additional dollars at the state level. The leveraging is pretty unbelievable.”
The $1.5 billion MIECHV tap has flowed unevenly to users of the 17 approved models. The funds going to NFP have expanded the models’ reach from 33 states to 42 states, one territory and four tribes, according to NFP spokeswoman Fran Benton.
MIECHV supported home visitation for 115,000 families in 787 U.S. counties last fiscal year, according to a recently released report by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Youth Services Insider is mostly written by Chronicle Editor John Kelly