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HomeHealthInvesting in Maternal and Child Health: Managing Health Disparities in Maryland

Investing in Maternal and Child Health: Managing Health Disparities in Maryland

During 2019 there were 70,178 babies born in Maryland and 837 of their mommas died. Maryland ranks 22nd in the nation in terms of maternal deaths. In order to improve maternal death rates and early childhood health, Maryland has launched a $72 million maternal and child health care transformation initiative aimed at improving related health disparities for Marylanders statewide.

“Maryland’s maternal and child health care transformation is focused on prevention and early intervention,” said Governor Hogan. “By investing in access to prenatal care, postpartum care and child health visits, we can improve a wide range of outcomes that potentially impact the health of multiple generations of Marylanders.”

Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) has approved programs and services based on the goals of reducing severe maternal morbidity and pediatric asthma-related emergency department visits for youth ages 2-17.

HSCRC-funded programs and initiatives include:

Medicaid – Home Visiting Services Pilot expansion: The current program serves eligible high-risk pregnant individuals and children up to age two. The program aims to increase use of prenatal and postpartum care, child vaccination rates, and well-child visits.

•Reimbursement for Doula Services – This new initiative provides Medicaid reimbursement for doula Managing Health Disparities in Maryland services. Doulas acts as advocates during and after pregnancy, including labor and delivery. These services will help increase access to care and lead to fewer low birth weight babies, birth complications, and C-sections.

CenteringPregnancy – This new program offers group prenatal care for low-risk pregnancies, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections and HIV. The program seeks to reduce incidents of preterm birth, low birth weight, elective C-sections, infant mortality, NICU stays, and emergency department visits for mothers and babies.

HealthySteps – This new program serves children from birth to age three and their families. HealthySteps promotes positive parenting and healthy development for babies and toddlers. The program aims to decrease postpartum depression and emergency department usage for care, as well as to increase child vaccination rates and well-child visits.

Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model Expansion – The MOM model provides extra support for pregnant and postpartum individuals with opioid use disorder, including screenings for needs related to social determinants of health and maternal anxiety and depression. The model aims to increase access to prenatal and postpartum care while reducing potentially avoidable emergency department use and long neonatal intensive care unit stays.

Public Health Services – Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes and Disparities: To improve overall childhood asthma outcomes and to address historically poorer asthma outcomes in Black children, MDH created a home visiting program in local health departments that offers education and training on home environmental asthma triggers. The program provides free services and materials and improves care coordination with health care providers through asthma action plans. The plans are designed to both reduce asthma-related emergency department use and improve school attendance for children.

Eliminating Disparities in Maternal Health – The initiative provides funding opportunities for jurisdictions that have elevated maternal morbidity rates to implement or expand programs and initiatives that improve maternal and child health. These initiatives include expanding home visiting programs and implementing the CenteringPregnancy program.

“By creating and expanding these programs and services, we’ll have increased access to care—especially for chronic conditions—during one of the most critical periods for intervention,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “These interventions are critical to helping set someone on the path toward a healthier future and may ultimately save lives.”

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