Congress Recesses, Home Visiting Extension Delayed

Congress left Washington Friday for its Easter recess without adopting legislation that would reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early-Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program beyond March 31, when its current legal authorization expires.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed an extension that would continue the program through September 30, 2017, but the legislation was not taken up in the Senate before the recess. The provision was included in a larger bill (H.R. 2) that would address Medicare payments to physicians.

The two-year extension is likely to be passed by the Senate when it returns in two weeks. According to a story in USA Today:

“We’ll turn to this legislation very quickly when we get back,” [Sen.] McConnell said early Friday after senators worked through the night to pass a 2016 budget. “There’s every reason to believe it’s going to pass the Senate by a very large majority.”

It is unclear, but very likely, that the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the home visiting program, will be able to manage the two week delay.

Last month, the Department announced the latest round of grants under the program. According to HHS, more than 1.4 million home visits have been conducted so far. In 2014, the program served an estimated 115,000 parents and children in all 50 states.

The agency also released a report to Congress last month detailing early evaluation findings, including an analysis of state needs assessments and the baseline characteristics of enrolled families and program models. The agency is also continuing its review of evidence-based programs, which receive 75 percent of program funds.

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