Written by William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations
In 2010, Congress passed a health care reform bill, and President Obama signed it into law. You may have recently heard a rumor that the health care law includes a provision mandating home visits by government social workers. While HSLDA strongly opposed passage of the health care law, urges Congress to repeal the law and continues to fight against its provisions which threaten religious freedom, we must point out that this particular rumor is not true.
Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, no government official can ever enter your home against your wishes unless he or she has a court-issued warrant or there are exigent circumstances such as your children facing imminent death or physical injury.
(Additionally, if you receive certain government benefits, they may be conditioned on your cooperation with social workers, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1971 inWyman v. James. For this reason, HSLDA cautions families about accepting government funds, such as virtual charter school programs that are run by the local public school.)
Therefore, even if the health care reform law had included mandatory home visits, such visits would likely have been ruled unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
The health care reform law did include a detailed home visitation program which we fear could lead to pressure on families to allow social workers into their homes. This is the primary reason why HSLDA opposed passage of this law, as you can read from our analysis in 2010. However, as we reported in 2010, these home visitation programs are voluntary. Section 2951 of the law makes this clear:
“An eligible entity desiring a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary for approval, in such manner as the Secretary may require, that includes the following …. Assurances that the entity will establish procedures to ensure that— (A) the participation of each eligible family in the program is voluntary; ….”
You may read this section for yourself at page 251 of the law available online.
HSLDA has long been concerned about the growth of federally funded home visitation programs. In 2008, HSLDA testified before Congress against a similar bill that created home visitation programs. An article summarizing this testimony can be found online.
After an exchange with a member of Congress who supported the bill, the member of Congress admitted that the bill needed to clearly state that any federally funded home visitation program must be voluntary. While that home visitation program bill never passed in 2008, supporters of this concept took the same language, added in the section which made the visits voluntary and included it as part of the health care reform law.
In short, while the health care bill’s home visitation program is something that HSLDA opposes, it is a voluntary part of law and thus does not allow the government to enter your home without a warrant.
HSLDA will vigorously defend any member family who is pressured to accept a home visitation program. Parents, not government social workers, should decide for themselves if they need these programs. If you are a member of HSLDA and feel that a government official is pressuring you to accept a home visitation program, please contact us immediately by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at (540) 338-5600.
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