Ohio continues to grapple with an unacceptably high rate of infant mortality, especially among black babies born in the state. Governor Mike DeWine’s budget for 2020-2021 seeks to address this issue through increased funding for home visiting and the continuation of efforts employed over the last few years. Let’s take some time to dig in to these newer initiatives, at least as much as we can with what we know now. We’ll continue to learn more details about the budget in the next few weeks.
Let’s take some time to dig in to these newer initiatives, at least as much as we can with what we know now.
In the weeks leading up to the budget’s introduction, DeWine assembled the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Home Visitation. Members represented state agencies, health systems, hospitals, children’s hospitals, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and health-focused associations. Over the course of six weeks, this group sought to fully understand home visiting in Ohio, to learn what role different entities play in home visiting and to understand the reach of the program. Home visiting “is a free, voluntary service that provides pregnant women and families with young children with the necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.” Home visiting is the key initiative proposed by the governor in his budget to address the state’s infant mortality rate and to connect with children and families early on. The goal of the program is to improve outcomes for both children and parents, by taking a two-generation approach. The committee proposed 20 recommendations which are summarized in the following bullet points. How does the Governor’s budget address Ohio’s high infant mortality rate? Find out from our @TaraBritton121 Click To Tweet
- Make race and ethnicity foundational elements of the state’s infant mortality efforts.
- Expand and streamline eligibility requirements so more at-risk families can be served.
- Create a central point of intake for all home visiting programs.
- Create a central data warehouse for all home visiting programs.
- Promote collaboration among healthcare payers, children’s hospitals, birthing hospitals and other community-based providers.
- Leverage the Medicaid program to reimburse for eligible services in a more cost-effective manner.
- Align the Department of Medicaid infant mortality reduction funds to complement the Help Me Grow program.
- Increase the frequency of the Ohio Department of Health incentive payments.
The as-introduced budget includes increased funding for Ohio’s Help Me Grow home visiting program, through the Ohio Department of Health. State funding is more than doubled in the proposed budget, from $20 million per year to more than $40 million in 2020 and to nearly $50 million in 2021 with a goal of tripling the reach of the program, which currently reaches 6 percent of eligible families (8,915). Other home visiting models are utilized in the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Ohio Department of Medicaid funded programs.
Home visiting is the key initiative proposed by the governor in his budget to address the state’s infant mortality rate and to connect with children and families early on.
What happens now? Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, testified to the Ohio House Finance Committee last week and will follow that testimony with a more in-depth look at the agency’s budget in the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on April 2. Home visiting initiatives seek to provide holistic services for pregnant women, babies and children, and families as a whole. An aspect of this program that deserves more attention is the role that home visiting can play in reducing maternal mortality. Pregnancy associated deaths include any death of a woman in the year following a pregnancy; this is the same year measure we use to determine infant mortality (the death of a baby before age 1). Any and all strategies to ensure healthy and safe babies should be employed, but strategies that focus on healthy and safe moms need to be similarly prioritized.
An aspect of this program that deserves more attention is the role that home visiting can play in reducing maternal mortality.
Community Solutions will continue to examine this issue throughout the course of the budget and report on any major changes along the way.
 Recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Home Visitation. https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/030819