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HHS Announces Final Phase Winners in Postpartum Care Challenge to Address Racial Equity

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has announced the winners of the $1.8 million HHS Racial Equity in Postpartum Care Challenge’s second and concluding phase. This challenge is part of a broader initiative by HHS and the Biden-Harris Administration to enhance postpartum care equity for Black or African American and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women, particularly those enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

This effort aligns with the President’s Unity Agenda and the implementation of the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, aiming to reduce maternal mortality and improve health outcomes for mothers and infants in underserved communities.

Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine emphasized that health equity and access to care are critical to addressing maternal health disparities in the U.S. With Medicaid covering over 40% of all births in the country, the challenge addresses the stark racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths and conditions such as gestational diabetes, depression, and hypertension, which disproportionately affect Black and AI/AN women.

Expanding Postpartum Care: Innovative Solutions Address Critical Health Challenges

The postpartum period, recognized as a critical phase for addressing morbidity and mortality associated with pregnancy, has seen 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months post-pregnancy. The challenge’s phase one winners identified programs that increased access to, attendance at, and quality of postpartum care. The final phase winners expanded these initiatives, focusing on diabetes, postpartum depression/anxiety, hypertension, and substance use disorders.

The awarded programs showcased innovative approaches to improving postpartum health services. Benten Technologies’ MommaConnect app, for example, offers remote psychotherapy access for pregnant and postpartum women, significantly reducing symptoms of postpartum depression. The Integrated Perinatal Clinic by the Center for Women’s Mental Health at Johns Hopkins provides expanded mental health services, reducing unplanned hospital visits.

Postpartum Care

 

Innovative Programs Transform Postpartum Healthcare: Digital Advances and Collaborative Efforts

Other notable winners include Mammha at Children’s National Medical Center with its mobile app for mental health screening, Emagine Solutions Technology with digital apps for symptom tracking and monitoring, and Healthy Hearts Plus II’s comprehensive digital solutions for postpartum care coordination. The Heart Safe Motherhood program utilizes technology to improve blood pressure control, while Northwell Health’s Maternal Health Outcomes and Morbidity Collaborative focuses on comprehensive care coordination and patient-centered approaches.

The Maternal Health Program, a collaborative effort involving CyncHealth, PointClickCare, and Innsena, utilizes technology to connect providers to health data, improving care delivery. Woman’s Hospital’s Diabetes Navigation System provides comprehensive care for prenatal and postpartum diabetes patients, significantly improving care compliance rates. Yale School of Medicine’s Community Health Care Van; Mother-Infant Program offers mobile support for addressing key health needs, including postpartum depression and hypertension.

 

Resource: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, February 15, 2024

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