'Pay For Success' will help state families (Greenville News)

By JOE WATERS and MEGAN GOLDEN, Guest Columnists

Recently, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Director Christian Soura announced the nation’s first Pay for Success project aimed at improving health outcomes for mothers and children living in poverty, and the first Pay for Success project of any type in the South.

The South Carolina Nurse-Family Partnership Pay for Success project will bring Nurse-Family Partnership’s evidence-based program to an additional 3,200 first-time mothers and their babies enrolled across South Carolina over the next four years, a significant increase over the 1,200 families currently benefiting from the high-impact intervention.

Pay for success financing or PFS is an innovative approach to scaling proven social programs that result in measurable outcomes for children and other vulnerable populations by using commercial or philanthropic capital. The structure of South Carolina’s Pay for Success deal is the first of its kind in that Medicaid will fund approximately $13 million via a 1915(b) Medicaid waiver awarded to the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Institute for Child Success has long believed that Pay for Success financing holds great potential to improve outcomes for our youngest children. We are beyond thrilled at the launch of this project not only because it demonstrates the validity of this creative financing approach, but because it means brighter futures for South Carolina’s most vulnerable mothers and children.

As we said previously in a blog at the Stanford Social Innovation Review, in addition to improving outcomes for vulnerable populations by funding the scale-up of proven programs, PFS

• Helps the state use taxpayer dollars more effectively to improve the health of South Carolinians in the state’s Medicaid program.

• Uses private-public partnerships to meet South Carolina’s challenges, mobilizing multiple sectors to work in concert to improve specific outcomes.

• Focuses government on paying for what works.

The launch of this project in South Carolina proves that Pay for Success is a win-win: social programs are held accountable for outcomes ensuring the best deal for the taxpayers and, most importantly, strong investments in children and families are scaled to reach many more of our vulnerable citizens. This means a brighter future for all South Carolinians.

Joe Waters is executive vice president and Megan Golden is senior fellow for Greenville-based Institute for Child Success. Their email addresses are jwaters@instituteforchildsuccess.org and mgolden@instituteforchildsuccess.org.