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Putting Evidence-Based Policy to the Test – Prospects for the MIECHV Program

By Brent Ewig, MHS
Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

Once again we are approaching a crossroads for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) program. As a reminder, Congress created MIECHV in 2010 to improve health and developmental outcomes for children and families who reside in vulnerable communities through implementation of evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs. The program builds on decades of research demonstrating the value of home visiting as a service delivery strategy, with an original authorization providing $1.5 billion for fiscal years 2010-2014.

Funding for this critical effort was set to expire Sept. 30, 2014, but in March Congress included an extension in a larger bill addressing Medicare payment rates for physicians (also known as the "doc fix"). Congress now needs to act by Mar. 31, 2015 to extend funding for this program.

Over the past few years, AMCHP has been working in partnership with a broad coalition advocating for continuation of MIECHV. Some of our main activities include educating members of Congress and their staff on the purpose and value of home visiting; cultivating champions to lead efforts to continue the program; and seeking data and stories that can help support our key messages.

One of our current activities is to collect signatures for a national sign-on letter that will show the depth and breadth of support for MIECHV across the nation. At press time, this letter includes more than 600 national, state and local stakeholders from every state in the union. We expect this will be an effective tool to use in our advocacy.

As for next steps, there are some indications an extension could be considered as part of the next docfix exercise sometime in the lame duck session of Congress. More likely, Congress will punt the decision until closer to the Mar. 31 deadline and, as always, the cost and sources of money to pay for the extension are expected to be sticking points.

As the process unfolds, we continue to raise the point that participating families, states and communities need certainty as soon as possible to plan for the continuation of services and to ensure that the resources invested to date are not abandoned. If you have information, success stories or compelling data that can be helpful in our efforts, please share that with me at bewig@amchp.org, and stay tuned for potential action alerts in early 2015 to add your voice to those urging Congress to continue this important effort.