September 11 2013

M-I-E-C-H-V-P, Find out What it Means for You and Me

Vicki E. Alger

At least one element of Obama’s (un)Affordable Care Act, the employer mandate, has been delayed. My colleague Patrice Lee convincingly argues why the individual mandate should be delayed as well. Better yet, of course, is to scrap the whole debacle.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services thinks not.

Just a couple of weeks ago HHS announced the expansion of one massive Obamacare component: the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.

What exactly is MIECHV? Well since its enactment in 2010 ObamaCare home visits have taken off in all 50 states affecting 15,000 families in 544 communities. HHS just expanded the program in 13 states at a combined cost of $69.7 million. Those states are using the money to advance home visits through their child welfare and state health agencies.

The program is supposed to be targeted to “at-risk communities,” but will more government strengthen families? The Heartland Institute’s Mary Petrides Tillotson has doubts:

In existing home visit programs, social workers visit the homes of certain ‘at-risk’ groups, aiming to improve family health and school readiness and decrease domestic violence. …

Strictly speaking, allowing such visits is voluntary. …But there’s no guarantee state officials and social workers won’t pressure or intimidate parents into permitting home visits, said attorney Kent Brown. He offered an illustration:

‘One of these people comes up to my door and knocks and we open the door, and they say, “We’re here representing a federal program and we’d like to talk with you,” Brown said. ‘Now, most people, seeing this, would be scared. Many of them would be intimidated, and the first impulse is to let them in the door. Now, is that voluntary?’

Other concerns include the propensity for government programs to expand way beyond their targeted populations. What’s more “home” visits include social workers showing up at maternity wards, doctors’ offices, and schools. Such intrusions are disruptive, not to mention intimidating—especially since these federally funded social workers have the authority to take parents’ children away from them.

This is a terrifying prospect for any parent, who likely won’t risk losing their children to defend their Fourth Amendment right to be secure in the homes.

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