Home Visiting Reauthorization May Not Be Automatic

Legislation reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early-Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, whose authority expired March 31, may not be as certain as previously thought, according to a story yesterday in National Journal.

The bill containing the MIECHV extension (H.R. 2), which also addresses Medicare payments to physicians, is now being targeted by fiscal conservatives for potentially expanding the federal budget deficit. According to the National Journal story:

The conventional wisdom says that the Senate would have little choice but to OK the bill, which passed with an unheard-of 392 votes in the House two weeks ago, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warning that doctors would face a 20 percent payment cut starting April 15. That could still very well hold true.

But conservatives in the Senate were already criticizing the bill while it was sailing through the House, because its $210 billion cost is directly offset by only $70 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years—with some outside estimates pushing that price tag even higher in the out years. Groups like Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have also panned the House deal, negotiated by Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

So far, the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the home visiting program, appears to be managing the delay. The Department announced its latest round of grants in February, well before the March 31 deadline.


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