Home Visitation, Teen Pregnancy Programs Are Targets of House Republicans

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House Republicans’ plan to defund all of the health reform provisions for fiscal 2012 would eliminate or drastically reduce two programs aimed at preventing teen pregnancies and helping young mothers as a way to prevent child abuse.

The 150-page spending plan for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor released late last week by the House Appropriations Committee provides no funding for home visitation programs for young mothers that have been proved to be effective in helping their babies to thrive and in reducing child abuse.

The proposed House bill specifically rescinds $350 million for Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation, even though the program predates health care reform

Fran Benton, a spokeswoman for Nurse/Family Partnership, one of the organizations that operates home visitation programs, said it hopes to find bi-partisan support for the program in the Senate. Nurse/Family Partnerships currently is in 33 states and with additional funding would move into five more states in 2012, Benton said.

Forty-nine states, all U.S. territories and several tribes have received funding to participate in the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation program.

The proposed bill also rescinds more than half of the money appropriated this year for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative.  The initiative was funded at $105 million in 2011, but would be trimmed to $40 million in competitive grants for fiscal 2012 – and half of that money would be reserved for abstinence-until-marriage programs, even those programs have been proved to be ineffective in preventing teen pregnancies.

Although the Obama Administration has tried repeatedly to eliminate the abstinence-only programs, Republicans succeeded in inserting money for the programs into the health care reform act for fiscal 2011.

The same proposed House bill would eliminate the family planning program, prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and any affiliates that perform abortion and ban private insurance companies from funding abortions.

In contrast, the spending bill for the same departments that has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, provides the full $105 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, and specifically requires that $70 million of that money be spent to replicate programs that have proved to be successful. In addition, $25 million is set aside for research and pilot programs that might be replicated.  The bill also designates $8.5 million to evaluate programs.

No money is included in the Senate bill for abstinence-only programs.

The bill also includes the full, mandated $350 million for the home visiting programs and allocates $300 million for voluntary family planning.

The Republican spending plan was released without going before any appropriations subcommittee and with no input from Democrats.  However, it still represents what likely would end up in any long-term continuing resolution passed by the House.

 There has not been a federal budget passed since fiscal 2010 and because none of the 10 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2012 has been passed – though the year began Oct. 1 – it appears unlikely that a budget will be passed this fiscal year.

For information about other provisions of the House Republicans’ proposed spending plan for the Departments of Health, Labor and Health and Human Services, click here.