The Honorable (Full Name)
Florida State Legislature
Dear Senator (Last Name),
Thank you for your dedication during this challenging time for so many. We know you have some difficult choices to make.
We are writing to give you some insight and to express our concerns with the proposal to eliminate funding for the thirty-one Healthy Start Coalitions across the state of Florida and to transfer Healthy Start services to county health departments.
Local Healthy Start Coalitions provide a cost-effective system of care for all pregnant Florida women and infants throughout the entire state through a variety of means. We have public and private provider networks in place to ensure pregnant women in all 67 counties have access to prenatal care. Less than 63% of county health departments actually provide prenatal care themselves. The loss of Healthy Start Coalitions would create large gaps in parts of the state where pregnant women would be unable to have prenatal care. County health departments ordinarily do not have the capabilities to secure private care arrangements outside of their own entities or across county lines.
Healthy Start Coalitions leverage additional dollars in their catchment areas to augment not only prenatal care, but other specialized direct services for women who are at high risk of prematurity, low birth weight, fetal or infant death. In 2008, the Coalitions leveraged $32 million to expand community resources. It is unlikely county health departments have the ability to orchestrate such an expansion to serve the needs of this population. As private, nonprofit organizations, Healthy Start Coalition oversight and administration is performed at a much lower cost. Overhead costs of county health departments are more than double the average rate of local coalitions. It’s the perfect example of “less government.”
In addition, Coalitions provide on-going education of maternal-child health professionals and the public, to assure the highest standards of prenatal and infant care are met and prevention messages are disseminated. Saves lives and dollars…maintain Healthy Start Coalitions and their community systems of care.
Thank you very much for your help!