MDH launches $72 million maternal and child health care initiative

Black Maternal Health Week

MARYLAND – The Maryland Department of Health is launching a $72 million maternal and child health care initiative. The goal is to improve health disparities that some mothers and young children face around the state. “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,” said Governor Larry Hogan in a news release.

Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission will set aside $10 million in annual funding for the next four years. $2 million of that money will go to MDH’s Public Health Services. In addition, Maryland Medicaid will now get $8 million per year, and will be eligible to get matching federal funds every year. “This investment will help us address a long-standing history of health disparities for mothers and children within communities that are underserved and need more support,” said MDH Secretary Dennis Schrader.

Back in December of 2020, Maryland placed maternal and child health as its third population health priority under the Statewide Integrated Health Improvement Strategy. The Health Services Cost Review Commission helps to support that strategy. Funding from the commission helps to support multiple programs aimed at improving maternal and child health.

Now, the Home Visiting Services Pilot will be expanded. The program currently serves high-risk pregnant individuals and children up to age two. MDH says its goal is to increase the use of prenatal and postpartum care, child vaccination rates, and well-child visits.

Plus, doulas are now eligible to get Medicaid reimbursements. Local doulas say the reimbursement could not only give patients more flexibility when it comes to paying. They say it would also expand doulas’ reach to new patients. MDH says this increased access will hopefully lead to fewer low birth weight babies, birth complications, and C-sections.

The CenteringPregnancy program is also being launched under the new funding. The program offers group prenatal care for low-risk pregnancies, and includes screenings for sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Another new program is HelathySteps. MDH says HealthySteps will serve children from birth to the age of three, and their families. The goal of the program is to promote positive parenting, as well as health development for babies and toddlers. MDH says the program is aimed at reducing postpartum depression, and rely on emergency department visits for care.

The Maternal Opioid Misuse Model is also being expanded. The MOM model gives support for pregnant and postpartum individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder. That includes screening for needs related to social determinants of health, and maternal anxiety and depression. MDH says the model will now have increased access to prenatal and postpartum care.

MDH is also hoping to tackle childhood asthma in Black children. The department created a home visiting program within local health departments to offer education on what can cause asthma. The program gives families access to free services that help identify the causes of asthma, and prevent it. MDH is also launching an initiative called Eliminating Disparities in Maternal Health. The program gives funding opportunities for parts of the state that have higher maternal death rates. The funding is aimed at expanding programs that improve maternal and child health.

Maryland’s 2019 Maternal Mortality Review found that the state’s maternal mortality rate was ranked 22nd in the nation. That works out to about 24.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland