Excellus BlueCross BlueShield awards grants to address maternal health disparities

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield today announced the first round of recipients of Member and Community Health Improvement (MACHI) grants to improve maternal health and health equity in upstate New York. Eight nonprofit organizations in the health plan’s 39 county service area will share $1 million in grant funding over the next three years.

“We have an opportunity and a responsibility to confront the nation’s crisis in maternal health disparities,” says Gina Cuyler, MD, Excellus BCBS vice president of health equity and community investments. “With this first installment of award funding, community organizations will have greater capabilities to support safe pregnancies and childbirth, eliminate pregnancy-related health disparities, and improve health outcomes for new mothers and babies.”

Excellus BCBS MACHI Maternal Health Equity Award funding will support the following initiatives:

  • Child & Family Resource Center Inc.: Healthy Families project offers support services to expectant and new parents.
  • Contact Community Services: 24/7 telephonic hospital follow-up for perinatal and postpartum support.
  • Gerard Place: Education, advocacy, mentoring & clinical tracking of low-income moms by nurse educators.
  • Integrated Community Alternatives Network: Comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care, transitional housing, and a supportive peer community for young homeless women who are pregnant and/or parenting.
  • Jericho Road Community Health Center: Home visiting support services for refugee and low-income, at-risk pregnant women.
  • Mohawk Valley Health System: Centering Pregnancy program to reduce racial disparities in preterm births.
  • Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network: Home/virtual visits to support new parents with breastfeeding, safe sleep, medical appointments and transportation, insurance & food insecurity through the first year of life.
  • Mount Hope Family Center: Home-based interventions for teen moms to address maternal mental health, parenting and child development, and trauma.

Black, Latina, and Asian women have higher rates of severe maternal morbidity (defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health) (SMM) than white women, regardless of age or type of health insurance, according to a recent study of racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health issued by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The study also revealed that preexisting health conditions going into delivery, such as hypertension, diabetes, or asthma, strongly correlate with higher SMM and worse pregnancy complications, increasing the likelihood of a risky delivery or challenges postpartum. While women ages 35-44 across all populations were identified as most likely to have an SMM event, the study found that Black women in this age range have a 66% higher rate of SMM and are more likely to suffer pregnancy-related complications than White women.

“The grants we announced today will provide needed funding to organizations that are working to address these issues,” says Cuyler.

Earlier this year, Excellus BCBS invited organizations to apply for Member and Community Health Improvement grants to fund programs to eliminate racial, health and geographical disparities, and that support of the National Maternal Health Equity Strategy endorsed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield operates in 39 upstate New York counties.

The health plan’s corporate giving follows all applicable laws and regulations and does not support funding organizations that conflict with its corporate mission, goals, policies or products.

Joy Auch (585) 238-4374

Originally posted on news.excellusbcbs.com, October 17, 2022
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