In their recent Health Affairs article, Federal Health Policy Requires Child Health Investment Focus, Charles Bruner and Maxine Hayes raise the imperative that we must think of health as a broad construct and center our policy priorities around comprehensively supporting babies, toddlers, and their families.
The HealthySteps National Office at ZERO TO THREE concurs wholeheartedly with this position and was honored to see HealthySteps noted as exemplary in providing integrated team-based care, focusing on the child in the context of their family and community.
Federal policies must support families if we want our next generation to thrive. The Biden-Harris Administration is making important strides in not only signaling, but acting on, its commitment to young children and families. Notably, a historic investment will help 151 Community Health Centers integrate early childhood development experts into the care team to focus on their youngest patients and their families. This is a crucial step to improving access to team-based care and shifting the standard of pediatric primary care to value service delivery across the care continuum—from promotion and prevention through treatment.
The early childhood field is pleased to see progress across other sectors of the Biden-Harris Administration. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reminded state policymakers in a 2022 Information Bulletin that the Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit includes access to, and payment for, early childhood development and HealthySteps-aligned services. Some states are leveraging these existing flexibilities to support behavioral health promotion and prevention through groundbreaking dyadic services and innovative enhanced payments. Other states are actively exploring how to leverage existing Medicaid opportunities to do more for young children and their families.
The authors also highlight that any commitment to reducing racial inequities should recognize that children must be at the forefront for meaningful change. We echo this call to action and are proud that HealthySteps, with its commitment to reach children with Medicaid/CHIP and body of evidence on advancing health equity, can be a small building block as we strive to create an antiracist health system.
We applaud Charles Bruner, a frequent National Office collaborator, and Maxine Hayes, a powerful innovative thinker, for publishing “Federal Health Policy Requires Child Health Investment Focus,” and helping to give a voice to the babies, toddlers, and families across this country in support of a happier, healthier, more prosperous future for all.