Back in September 2009, we reported on the status of President Obama's efforts to expand the Nurse-Family Partnership. The program sends nurses to the homes of pregnant women in low-income families to teach parents, especially mothers, how to better prepare for birth and to care for their newborns. According to President Obama, as well as a growing body of academic research, nurse visitation initiatives can have a positive long-term impact on the mental and physical development of children in low-income areas. A January 2010 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine concludes, for example, that "preventive interventions for parents of young children that improve parental competencies and the early learning environment of the child hold considerable promise as a means of reducing health and developmental problems across the life course and associated costs to government and society."
At the time, we rated the promise In the Works, since one of the health care reform bills that Congress was considering would have allowed these programs, referred to as Nurse Home Visitations Services, to be paid for through Medicaid. We wanted to to wait and see how things unfold before issuing a final ruling.
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. Section 2951 includes the following provision: "... the Secretary shall make grants to eligible entities to enable the entities to deliver services under early childhood home visitation programs ... to eligible families in order to promote improvements in maternal and prenatal health, infant health, child health and development, parenting related to child development outcomes, school readiness, and the socioeconomic status of such families, and reductions in child abuse, neglect, and injuries." Congress also appropriated $1.5 billion for these state grants.
So Congress did not end up incorporating the nurse home visitation services into Medicaid coverage, but it did provide billions of dollars in funding for state grants.