State legislation in 2019 to support infant and maternal health in Prince George’s County

On February 14, the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to learn more about infant and maternal health. There are three bills in particular that the Resource Center supports, and we took action to make sure that the needs of Prince George’s County were heard!

At any General Assembly hearing, advocates can submit written testimony. The Resource Center does this on matters of the budget, child care subsidy, and more, to promote issues that matter to local families. We had a special chance on February 14: Alyson Jacobson, Director of Healthy Families Prince George’s , gave her testimony aloud while lawmakers listened to her.

Thrive by Three
We were thrilled to see the passage of Thrive by Three legislation in 2018. In 2019, we must build on that good start by adequately funding Thrive by Three. The Resource Center supports SB 406, the “Prenatal and Infant Care Coordination – Grant Funding and Task Force” legislation. Investing in care coordination by making grants to counties and municipalities will increase the yield on the investment Maryland has already made in home visiting programs across the state.

Alyson shared data and the impact that an investment could have: “The National Institute of Medicine reports that for every pre-term birth averted saves $51,600, and prenatal care coordination has been found to reduce preterm birth rates by as much as 17%. Our ability to link our families to coordinated services will help reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for children in our communities so that families can thrive.”

Alyson also shared the real day-to-day need, telling Senators: “Our staff spends a great deal of time linking families to needed services, which are currently disjointed and often difficult to access. One of the greatest sources of stress, burnout and eventual attrition from home visiting work is caused by knowing exactly what a family needs to address their challenges and simultaneously experiencing the barriers a family faces when trying to access it. Care coordination would increase the effectiveness of our Family Support Specialists, save Maryland precious dollars, and, most importantly, promote healthy outcomes for our most vulnerable children.”

Local Review Teams, and Using Data
While Maryland’s maternal mortality rate is relatively small (41 pregnancy-associated deaths in 2015 state-wide), this rate is 20% higher than rates in 2006-2010. Furthermore, the rate of mortality among black women is almost 3 times that of their white counterparts. This should be considered a health crisis in Maryland.

The Senate Finance Committee learned about solutions, including creating local review teams to build on the existing Statewide Maternal Mortality Review Team, and collecting and using data for decision-making.

Local Review Teams will allow regions to glean insights that may be unique to their communities. The more information that can be gained, the greater chance we have of preventing an infant’s tragic loss of a mother. Local Review Teams identify local trends that demonstrate gaps in prevention and supportive services and can build a network for coordinating system-wide services to prevent this type of loss—for not only a family, but the community as a whole. If we know that there are trends in maternal mortality among races, we can conduct targeted outreach for our service delivery. It is critically important to identify health disparities by race to allow both public and private dollars to be used effectively so that all families have the opportunity to thrive.

Maternal mortality is rare – but even one is too many. If a local review team can uncover information that could lead to future prevention of loss of life, it is our obligation to make sure that it happens. SB 356 calls for new data reporting requirements. SB 602 creates the local review teams. The Resource Center supports both of these bills.

Read more:
Alyson Jacobson’s testimony in support of SB 406: Prenatal and Infant Care Coordination – Grant Funding and Task Force

Jennifer Iverson’s testimony in support of SB 356: Health – Maternal Mortality Review Program – Reporting Requirement

Jennifer Iverson’s testimony in support of SB 602: Maternal Mortality Review Program – Establishment of Local Teams