Governor Hutchinson discusses plans to improve children’s lives and maternal health care
SMALL ROCK – Joined by supportive members of the General Assembly, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health, Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss plans to improve children’s lives and maternal health care.
The country has made progress in terms of children’s health and well-being over the past 10 years. The governor noted that there is still a lot of work to be done by the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services and we need to address the challenges in those areas.
The governor said he has asked both departments to make recommendations on how the state can do more and how to improve maternal health care in Arkansas, as well as the safety and well-being of our children.
Arkansas Department of Human Services and Department of Health offers:
The governor said DHS is awaiting approval from CMS for the Maternal Life360Home program. This will make the nearly 5,000 women enrolled in ARHOME eligible for home visits and intensive care coordination services for high-risk pregnancies and for postpartum children. DHS also plans to seek federal approval to expand Maternal Life360’s home visiting services to all high-risk pregnant women on Medicaid, which would make an additional 5,000 pregnant women eligible for these services annually.
Governor Hutchinson said home visiting programs can improve health outcomes for mothers and create better health outcomes for children born to those mothers. The exemption is expected to be granted by September and services will begin in January.
The second initiative aims to address the traditional Medicaid population. The proposal would expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant women up to 212 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, coverage is limited to covering only the child or pregnancy-related conditions.
“It’s important that after giving birth, the mother has more comprehensive health coverage,” said Governor Hutchinson. “This will save the lives of the children as well as the health of the mother.
These expanded services will include behavioral health services and medical conditions not related to pregnancy. DHS anticipates that this expanded coverage will begin in January, making more than 2,000 pregnant women annually eligible for these expanded services.
The third initiative will address the issue of foster care in Arkansas. Currently, many foster parents receive board payments, averaging $455 per month, to cover food and shelter for foster children. Many children who come to foster families are placed temporarily. However, temporary accommodations are not eligible for board payments under Arkansas law.
The Governor announced that he will authorize, with legislative support, the use of $1.7 million that will support this effort to provide support payments to foster parents who have foster children in temporary placement.
The governor also said the state should increase monthly board payments to traditional foster parents in the future. DHS will submit plans in 2023 requesting additional general revenue for FY 2024 to increase pension payment amounts.
The governor said the goal of the Department of Health’s proposals is to reach more women to benefit from existing home visiting and partner programs through expanded outreach. They also want to increase training for home visitors, which will give participating families more support.
ADH will also introduce a resource call line for Arkansas residents to get helpful information about pregnancy and parenting resources in their area. These services will include those provided by ADH, DHS, other state agencies, and charities that focus on pregnancy resources.
The number for this hotline is 1-855-ARK-MOMS (275-6667).
You can watch the full briefing HERE.
You can see the slide presentation from today’s briefing HERE.
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