CONTACT: Marcus Roth,

Amy Riegel, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, issued the following statement in response to the Ohio Senate’s proposed cut to Healthy Beginnings at Home in the biennial budget (HB 33):

“The Ohio Senate inexplicably slashed funding by 81 percent for a program that is demonstrating that housing interventions can improve birth outcomes while reducing the state’s Medicaid spending. If this proposed cut takes effect, the state will spend more on neonatal care and preventable health problems. This makes no sense.

“The Senate still has the opportunity to reconsider this pennywise, pound-foolish budget cut. We’re asking senators to restore Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposal to fund the expansion of Healthy Beginnings at Home when they release the omnibus amendment next week. This one-time investment will pay for itself by saving Medicaid dollars and saving babies’ lives.”

Background: Gov. DeWine and the Ohio House’s version of the budget appropriated $16 million to expand Healthy Beginnings at Home, an evidence-based intervention to improve birth and maternal health outcomes by providing housing assistance to unstably housed pregnant women. This week the Ohio Senate reduced funding to $3 million, which is insufficient to expand Healthy Beginnings to Dayton, Akron, Cincinnati, and Cleveland as planned.

The initial pilot program, which launched in 2018 in Columbus, showed that stable housing positively impacted families’ health and dramatically reduced Medicaid costs. At the conclusion of the pilot, the data showed:

  • Zero fetal deaths among babies in the housing intervention group, but four deaths in the control group;
  • 40 of the 51 babies in the housing intervention group were born full-term at healthy birth weights compared to just 24 of 44 babies in the control group;
  • Babies in the housing intervention group that were admitted to the NICU stayed just eight days compared to 29 days for those in the control group;
  • The average Medicaid claim to deliver babies in the housing intervention group was only $4,000, compared to $22,000 for babies in the control group.

The General Assembly included $2.25 million in the last budget bill to begin the process of expanding Healthy Beginnings 2.0. This initial allocation was enough to get the project started, but additional funding is required to bring the project to scale, expand it to additional communities, improve birth outcomes, and reduce Medicaid spending.