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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - March 29, 2007)

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By Mr. SALAZAR (for himself and Mr. Specter):

S. 1052. A bill to amend title XIX and XXI of the Social Security Act to provide States with the option to provide nurse home visitation services under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, I rise today to make the health of American children and families a top priority with the Healthy Children and Families Act of 2007, which I introduced earlier today with Senator Specter. I am honored that Senator Specter has co-sponsored this important legislation, and I thank Senator Specter for his leadership and commitment to children's health and to empowering families to lead healthy lives.

The Children's Health Insurance Program has successfully improved the health of over six million low-income children, allowing them to grow, learn and reach their fullest potential. In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Finance Committee to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program so that it continues to fulfill its promise to provide quality health care to all low-income children.

The reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program provides us with an opportunity to strengthen and improve it. The Healthy Children and Families Act does just that by allowing states to offer nurse home visitation services in their Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance programs. The Healthy Children and Families Act models nurse home visitation services after the Nurse Family Partnership program.

The Nurse Family Partnership program provides low-income pregnant women with trained, registered nurses who counsel their clients in their homes on prenatal care, child health and development, proper nutrition, life-coping strategies and skills, healthy family relationships, educational development and opportunities, employment training, family planning information, family support mechanisms and a variety of other services that children and families need to maintain healthy, economically stable lives.

Nurse home visitation programs empower women and children to transform their lives, families and communities. The nurses provide the education and tools for pregnant women and their families to improve their health by getting early prenatal care, preventative healthcare and proper nutrition. In addition, the nurses provide help for pregnant women and families to change risky behaviors such as substance abuse, and also teach pregnant women parenting skills so that they can welcome their babies into households that are prepared to raise physically and mentally healthy children. Nurses in the program also help mothers continue their own education and obtain employment so that the family is able to be economically stable.

We all recognize that the most critical time for childhood development begins in infancy. Nurse home visitation programs nurture the cognitive development of children during those critical early years so that children are equipped to learn.

The success of nurse home visitation services is nothing short of inspiring. Statistics from multiple, controlled studies prove that mothers and children served by nurse visitation services have a: 79 percent reduction in preterm delivery; 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect; 59 percent reduction in child arrests; 61 percent fewer arrests of the mother; 72 percent fewer conviction for the mother; 46 percent increase in father presence in household; 32 percent fewer subsequent pregnancies; 50 percent reduction in language delays of child age 21 months; 67 percent reduction in childhood behavioral problems at age 6.

With these amazing, life-altering results, it is no surprise that nurse visitation programs have been found to save taxpayer dollars. The Rand Corporation conducted a cost-benefit analysis and found that for every dollar spent on Nurse Family Partnership services, a savings of $5.70 is yielded in diminished health care costs and governmental and social costs associated with child abuse and neglect, unwanted pregnancy, childhood developmental delays, and criminal justice costs.

The life transforming impact of nurse home visitation programs led the Brookings Institute to recently publish a report in which it identified nurse home visitation services as one of the most cost-effective returns on investment for children. The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence has identified nurse home visitation services such as Nurse Family Partnership as a ``blueprint'' for violence prevention. At a time when youth violence is on the rise, these programs hold the key to reducing violent conduct.

The Healthy Children and Families Act will allow states to offer nurse home visitation services to over half a million pregnant women annually. The Act will empower mothers and children to live healthy and economically stable lives that enrich their communities. Moreover, the Act will save scarce resources by improving prenatal health, birth outcomes, increasing intervals between first and subsequent births, reducing early childhood injuries and hospitalizations, reducing child abuse and neglect, reducing involvement in the criminal justice system, and improving maternal employment and economic self-sufficiency of families.

I encourage my colleagues to support the Healthy Children and Families Act as cost effective, smart legislation that will transform the health and lives of children and families.

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