On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Jill Kingston, executive director and CEO of Brigid’s Path, on a conference call to discuss the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act.
Brigid’s Path, which is located in Dayton, provides in-patient medical care for drug-exposed newborns, non-judgmental support for mothers, and educational services to improve family outcomes. The CRIB Act would allow treatment centers like Brigid’s Path to receive funding from Medicaid for some of the health care services they provide to infants, according to Brown.
It would also clarify that the babies who are receiving services through centers like Brigid’s Path can continue to do so after they are a year old. In addition, it would provide for activities to encourage bonding between the infants and their care-givers.
“We need to get this legislation through the Senate soon, to support the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis, and make sure all babies and their caregivers can get care in a setting that meets their special needs,” said Brown.
He explained that treating drug-exposed newborns in hospitals is more expensive than treating them in centers like Brigid’s Path. In addition, he said the atmosphere of a hospital, with its bright lights and constant business, is not ideal for these babies. Specifically-designed centers can better cater to these baby’s needs, he said.
In addition to caring for the babies, Brigid’s Path provides services for the baby’s mothers and other family members. “One of the things we’re really proud of is that none of our babies have had to go into foster care,” said Kingston. “Having the CRIB Act will really be life-changing for our families.”
The CRIB Act is a bipartisan bill that is cosponsored by Brown and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). A matching bill in the House is cosponsored by Congressmen Michael Turner (OH-10) and Evan Jenkins (WV-3).
According to information on Brown’s website, 84 babies are treated for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Ohio hospitals every day. In 2015 alone, the cost of caring for these infants was $133 million. The prevalence of NAS has gone up substantially throughout the nation in recent years. In Ohio, between 2004 and 2011, the number of babies born each year with NAS increased six-fold.
Brown expressed hope that the opioid epidemic can be brought to an end, citing the significant decrease in the use of tobacco that has occurred in the past few decades. But, he said programs will need to be properly funded, and he expressed displeasure that “this Congress continues to try to do this on the cheap.”
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2