Illinois Managed Care Organizations Take a Lead Role to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes (Springfield, IL) – Many people find it difficult to consider a joyful event like welcoming a new baby into the world as becoming a family tragedy. Sadly, statistics on maternal-infant mortality show pregnant women and newborns in the United States have a significantly higher risk of death or poor health outcomes as compared to women and newborns in other developed countries.
It is not surprising that, like disparities seen in outcomes after COVID-19 infections, undesirable pregnancy outcomes occur more frequently with women of color as compared to white women. Of equal importance, data shows differences in pregnancy outcomes persist even when women have similar income and education levels. Although race is a clear differentiator, women in low income and rural communities face more challenges.
Women of Color
Nationally, women of color are two times more likely to die of a pregnancy related cause than white women. Closer to home, black women are three times more likely to die of a pregnancy related condition as white women, according to data from the IL Department of Public Health.
Although these undesirable outcomes have previously been well documented, the level of frustration and undeniable call-to-action exacerbated by the COVID pandemic has spurred healthcare stakeholders to make meaningful changes in an effort to close health outcome gaps.
“Many MCOs (Managed Care Organizations) have been working on ways to address maternal morbidity rates in Illinois including increasing education to women of childbearing years and proactively working with community-based organizations to identify at-risk pregnant members,” said Samantha Olds Frey, CEO of the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans.
Illinois Medicaid is ramping up efforts to reduce maternal mortality by taking a multifaceted approach through community engagement, improving processes, and addressing the policies that were put in place the led us to these undesirable outcomes in the first place.
Specifically, Illinois is the first state in the nation to extend full Medicaid coverage for mothers from 60 days to a full 12 months after delivery. By extending continuous healthcare coverage, this program seeks to improve maternal health overall while focusing on supporting populations that have historically suffered health disparities, leading to poorer health outcomes.
Since one-third of maternal deaths in the United States occur between one week and a year after childbirth, extended Medicaid coverage will support women during the crucial time of recovering from birth by providing access to the ongoing care they need for a full year. The continuous coverage available through Illinois Medicaid can help mothers better manage chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, and provides access to behavioral health care services, such as treatment for postpartum depression.
Medicaid eligible women with income up to 208% of the federal poverty level have access to this health benefit. Illinois projects that approximately 2,500 women, annually, will receive 12 months of continuous Medicaid coverage under this program.
“Continuous health care coverage reduces health care costs and improves outcomes. By expanding Medicaid eligibility for a full year after delivery, Illinois is setting an important model for other states across the country to follow,” said Xavier Becerra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Healthcare services covered by the Medicaid program are important tools being used to close health equity gaps. By initiating this program, Illinois Medicaid is highlighting one way both federal and local stakeholders can collaborate in efforts to reduce maternal-infant mortality and support Medicaid members, care providers, and health plans as they work to effectively address disparities and improve health outcomes.
Illinois’ Medicaid benefit extension went into effect earlier this year and is authorized through December 31, 2025.
Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans
The Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans (IAMHP) is an advocacy, member organization representing the Medicaid managed care health plans (MCOs) operating in the state of Illinois, which includes: Aetna Better Health of Illinois, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, CountyCare Health Plan, Humana, Meridian Health and Molina Healthcare. As a member organization for the Medicaid managed care health plans, IAMHP works with the IL state government, legislators, advocacy groups and Medicaid patients to invest in and provide high-quality health care focused on cost-effective, individualized care that helps the residents of Illinois live longer and healthier lives.
For more information on Illinois Managed Care visit: https://iamhp.net/
For more information on this program visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/section-1115-demonstrations/downloads/il-continuity-care-admin-simplification-ca.pdf – PDF.
Illinois Managed Care Organizations Take a Lead Role to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes