The Day – Connecticut expands maternal health, adds undocumented mothers

Gov. Ned Lamont announced improvements in coverage and maternal health services in Connecticut during a press conference at UConn Health on Tuesday.

Many new initiatives include expanding prenatal coverage under the state health program for all eligible women, regardless of immigration status, expanding postpartum coverage from six weeks to a full year, and creating a new payment package that will integrates doulas and breastfeeding support for up to one year.

The state is also piloting a universal program for home visits and community health workers, starting in Bridgeport. The program will allow families one to three home visits by a registered nurse, who will provide education and support for the health of babies and mothers.

Lamont was joined by Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford, Public Health Commissioner Manisha Jutani and medical providers.

“In Connecticut, there are an average of five to six pregnancy-related deaths a year, and about half of those deaths occur in the first six weeks to a year after pregnancy,” Gifford said. “So it is very important for women to have access to long-term care and not just prenatal care or the immediate postpartum period, but for the whole year after pregnancy.

A series of new measures are aimed at tackling racial differences and improving health outcomes in the country at a time when maternal deaths are on the rise nationally.

“Before, we saw remarkable progress in maternal health to the point where maternal deaths were extremely rare in the United States decades ago,” Gifford said. “Unfortunately, we have seen this trend reversed and the number of maternal deaths has been increasing every year since 2018. In addition, maternal mortality for non-Hispanic black women is three times higher in this country than for white women. These are issues that need to be addressed urgently. “

The new measures came into force on April 1 this year as part of the biennial state budget of the General Assembly. The money to fund the government’s five-year expansion program is included in the federal U.S. Rescue Plan Act. The federal government estimates that about 4,000 women in Connecticut each year will be eligible for extension.

Connecticut sees an average of 35,000 births a year, and about 40 percent of them are covered by the state’s HUSKY public health program. In addition, 34% of these births are by caesarean section, which is one of the highest in New England.

“Through the presence of a doula before, during and after pregnancy, we know that it can help reduce the incidence of cesarean sections, promote breastfeeding and help the birth mother get all the support she needs to get a birth.” what they want, “Cynthia Hayes, practicing doula, told a news conference on Tuesday. “We are encouraged by the state’s modern approach to expanding access to doula services as part of its maternity initiatives.”

Along with expanded services, prenatal coverage for undocumented women under the state child health insurance program has also been expanded. Previously, undocumented women did not qualify due to their immigration status.

More changes are planned for next year, including medical coverage for undocumented immigrant children up to the age of 8 will take effect on January 1, 2023, and postpartum care for undocumented immigrant women will follow in April 2023.

“We can’t abandon these mothers and babies,” Lamont said. “We place particular emphasis on the communities most affected by differences. Basic health care is an individual right and no one should be asked about your immigration documents. ”

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