Governor Ned Lamont announced improvements to Connecticut’s maternal health coverage and services during a press conference at UConn Health on Tuesday.
The series of new initiatives includes expanding antenatal coverage under the state public health program to all women who qualify regardless of immigration status, extending postpartum coverage from six weeks to a full year, and creating a new payment package, which will complement doulas and breastfeeding support for up to one year.
The state is also experimenting with a universal program of home visits and community health workers starting in the city of 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 the children and the mother.
Lamont was joined by Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford, Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, and health care providers.
“In Connecticut, there are an average of five to six pregnancy-related deaths per 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 that women have access to long-term care and not just antenatal care or the immediate postpartum period, but for the whole year after pregnancy.”
The series of new measures aims to address racial disparities and improve health outcomes in the state at a time when maternal deaths are rising nationwide.
“We had previously seen remarkable advances in maternal health to the point where maternal deaths were extremely rare in the United States a few decades ago,” Gifford said. “Unfortunately we have seen this trend reversed and the number of maternal deaths has increased every year since 2018. Furthermore, maternal deaths for non-Hispanic black women are three times higher in this country than for white women. These are issues that need to be addressed urgently ”.
The new measures went into effect on April 1 this year as part of the state’s biennial budget of the General Assembly. The money to fund the government’s five-year extension program is included in the Federal American Rescue Plan Act. The federal government estimates that approximately 4,000 women in Connecticut each year will be eligible for extended coverage.
Connecticut averages 35,000 births annually, and about 40 percent of these are covered by the state’s HUSKY health coverage program. Additionally, 34% of these births are delivered by caesarean section, representing one of the highest rates in New England.
“Having a doula present before, during and after pregnancy, we know it can help reduce the cesarean rate, encourage breastfeeding, and help give the delivering parent any kind of support they need to achieve delivery. you want, “Cynthia Hayes, a practicing doula, said at the press conference on Tuesday. “We are encouraged by the state’s cutting-edge approach to expanding access to doula services as part of its maternity initiatives.”
Along with the expansion of services, antenatal coverage for undocumented women under the state health insurance program for children has also been expanded. Previously, undocumented women were ineligible due to their immigrant status.
Further changes are also planned for next year, including medical coverage for undocumented immigrant children up to the age of 8 will come into effect on January 1, 2023, and postpartum care for undocumented immigrant women will follow. ‘April 2023.
“We can’t leave those mothers and babies behind,” Lamont said. “We are placing particular emphasis on the communities most affected by disparities. Primary health care is an individual right and no one should be asked about immigration documentation. “