A federal program to improve birth outcomes among Medicaid-covered women has produced positive results: lower rates of pre-term births, fewer low birthweight babies, fewer C-sections, lower delivery costs, and lower first-year health care spending.
The “Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns” program was a four-year initiative established by the Affordable Care Act and developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to employ patient education, nutrition, exercise, preparation for childbirth, breast-feeding, and family planning rather than strictly medical interventions and was delivered through three evidence-based prenatal care models: Birth Centers, Group Prenatal Care, and Maternity Care Homes.
The program, operated in 219 separate sites in 32 states (with one in Pennsylvania), served participants with especially challenging socio-economic risk factors: unemployment, lack of a high school degree or GED, food insecurity, transportation challenges, chronic health problems, and previous poor birth outcomes – the very types of patients Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals serve in such large numbers. The objective of the program was to find ways to overcome these social determinants of health and produce better birth outcomes and now, a new, independent evaluation has found that it did.
Learn more about Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns and what it has produced in the official program evaluation document.