Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced a four-year, $72-million program Tuesday that will increase mothers’ and children’s access to health care.
“Maryland’s maternal and child health care transformation is focused on prevention and early intervention,” Hogan said in a statement. “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 ranks 22nd in the nation for maternal mortality with 24.8 deaths for every one hundred thousand births, according to the state’s 2019 Maternal Mortality Review.
Funding for the program will be provided through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC), and other sources, including Maryland Medicaid. The money started to flow July 1.
The HSCRC has designated funding to create new programs and expand some existing services, including a series of home visits, reimbursement for doula services, a new prenatal care initiative and screenings for maternal depression and anxiety to prevent prenatal drug use.
The HSCRC chose these initiatives because they fit into the Statewide Integrated Health Improvement Strategies (SIHIS) program, a public-private partnership, which declared maternal and child health as one of its three top priorities.
The programs aim to prevent pediatric asthma-related emergency room visits and maternal morbidity via Maryland’s Total Cost of Care model.
The Total Cost of Care model relies on a federal waiver to allow hospital payments to be set at the state level, meaning that all patients — regardless of their access to health insurance — pay the same rate for services when seeking care.
“HSCRC is committed to working with other state agencies and private sector partners to transform care delivery,” said Katie Wunderlich, executive director of the HSCRC.
The Maryland Department of Health’s Public Health Services will also receive $2 million annually to deploy educational programs on home environmental asthma triggers through local health departments and to expand programs that prevent maternal morbidity in jurisdictions with elevated death rates.
“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,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, the Maryland Department of Health’s deputy secretary for Public Health. “These interventions are critical to helping set someone on the path toward a healthier future and may ultimately save lives.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct Maryland’s maternal mortality rate, which is 24.8 deaths for every one hundred thousand births.