By Brent Ewig, AMCHP DIrector of Policy and Government Affairs
Last month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on childhood injury prevention. The hearing was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Safe Kids Worldwide organization, and celebrated new reports showing that childhood injury deaths are down 45 percent over the past 20 years. The hearing featured testimony from our partners at the State and Territorial Injury Prevention Director Association. As a sign of how AMCHP is increasingly being viewed as a resource on the Hill, we were invited by Chairman Ted Kennedy’s office to distribute a press statement at the hearing, and provide questions for members to use to help shape a productive dialogue.
Our statement pointed out that despite substantial progress, injury remains the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. We let the Committee know that support for efforts to promote safe communities and prevent childhood injuries is a high priority on AMCHP’s public policy agenda. We also highlighted the significant opportunities for prevention, and the need for increased attention and investment in this area.
In our statement and conversations with Hill staff, we pointed out that last year the entire budget of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control was only $134 million. At this level the CDC is able to fund only 30 states for basic injury prevention programs. When compared to the tens of billions spent on health insurance—that in part pays to treat injuries—we have a compelling example of where public policy favors treatment over prevention.
Similarly, we noted that the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant—which is intended to improve the health of all children and families and includes two national performance measures related to injury prevention—has been reduced by over $60 million over the past six years. Most state MCH programs have identified injury prevention as a pressing need, but have been hampered by limited and declining resources to implement proven programs and policies that prevent injuries.
To continue and accelerate progress, we are highlighting how fully-funded state programs can:
- Educate families on the appropriate type and use of child safety seats via partnerships with local children’s safety coalitions and state departments of transportation, and support programs to dispense car seats, cribs, smoke detectors and other home safety equipment;
- Support home visiting and other community-based case management programs that promote injury prevention;
- Work with providers to assess for intimate partner violence in health care visits, including prenatal care and postpartum visits; and,
- Promote “Back to Sleep” campaigns in settings that provide prenatal care, well child care and parenting education classes such as WIC clinics, social service agencies, community health centers and child care centers.
Our country has already made significant progress in establishing some of the infrastructure, policies and programs that combat childhood injury. By expanding these systems to meet current needs and utilizing the proven programs and strategies that address preventable injuries, we can save even more children’s lives while providing a cost savings to the nation during economically troubling times.
We will continue to urge Congress to lead a national dialogue on how we can move desperately needed public resources upstream to focus on the prevention of childhood injuries and reduce the demand on health insurance programs to pay for treatment. Fully funding the Title V MCH Block Grant at $850 million and expanding CDC Injury Center funding to support all states are two important steps we can take to enhance childhood injury prevention, and will continue to be part of AMCHP’s advocacy message.
Download a PDF version of the June edition of Pulse here.