Home Visiting in Health Care Bills

Home Visiting in Health Care Bills Promotes Government Intrusion into Homes
Among the MANY important reasons to oppose the health care "reform" bills now working their way through Congress from EdWatch's point of view are the efforts to expand home visiting programs and the mental screening of new mothers. Language of these programs is in the House and Senate bills respectively.  The latest House bill, HR 3962, that sadly passed the full House, plans to spend $750,000,000 through 2014 and the Senate Finance Committee version, S 1796 spend $1,500,000,000 over the same period to implement the very bad idea of home visiting. For new mothers, the House bill spends "such sums as may be necessary" and the Senate spends $3,000,000 initially, and then "such sums as may be necessary" through 2012 to fund grants that will include the promotion of mental screening of pregnant women and new mothers.
These odious home visiting programs send government workers into the homes of mostly poor families, although the Federal home visiting bill also wants to do the same with military families. These workers then make sure children are being raised according to government standards, collect massive amounts of data about every aspect of the family and their lives, and make sure that families are "helped" into dependence on government services like childcare/preschool and mental health services.  EdWatch has described the many problems with the federal stand-alone bills.   
These programs are also in many states, including Minnesota.  Potential presidential candidate and putative conservative, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, had the chance to line-item veto this in 2007 as well as a chance to defund these awful programs that are opposed by many state and national pro-family groups in the budget crisis of 2009, but has thus far sadly declined those opportunities. 
The newest House health care bill, HR 3269, like its processor HR 3200, contains several requirements for what acceptable home visiting programs must provide for parents. They are all a big government nanny state takeover of parenting.  Here are some of the more egregious ones with EdWatch analysis following:
1. "Knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains (including knowledge of second language acquisition, in the case of English language learners);"

Experts admit that there is a wide range of normal development and mental health, and that it is very difficult for physicians to accurately diagnose problems in young children. Poorly trained government workers are going to be going into homes and pronouncing to parents what is normal from government's point of view, including mental health . "Social emotional" is mental health.

2. "Knowledge of health and wellness issues for children and parents;"

This is government driving and potentially imposing health decisions for every member of the family, that could include what vaccines or medicines a child is deemed in their opinion to need, whether the parents agree or not. 

3. "Modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices;"

Government workers are presuming to know and tell parents how to parent potentially regardless of the values and beliefs of the family. 

4. "Skills to recognize and seek help for issues related to health, developmental delays, and social, emotional, and behavioral skills;" 

The government is going to tell parents how to mentally screen their own kids, when even the experts do not agree on the criteria. 

5. "Activities designed to help parents become full partners in the education of their children"  

Parents are not mere partners - they are in charge. There is no way that parents should be partners with government on anything related to the raising and education of children. 

Both the House and Senate bills seek to promote the mental screening of pregnant women and or new mothers.  EdWatch and many other groups have shown the blatant subjectivity, lack of scientific validation, and harm of these screening programs for children.  The idea that a pregnant woman or new mother could potentially end up on antidepressants or antipsychotics that could and already have been implicated in causing mothers to commit suicide or harm their children or that these drugs with their known dangers to developing babies in the womb or newborns through breast milk could be prescribed as the result of such flimsy, unscientific screening "tests" is appalling.

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