1,024 Ohio infants died before their first birthday in 2016


Staff report

COLUMBUS

As part of Ohio’s efforts to help more Ohio babies reach their first birthdays, the Ohio Department of Medicaid and its five contracted managed- care plans have awarded $1,561,338 to community initiatives in Mahoning County aimed at reducing infant mortality.

The number of Ohio infants who died before their first birthday in 2016 was 1,024, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Health. While Ohio’s infant mortality rates are all trending downward over time, Ohio’s rate, especially the black infant mortality rate, remains too high and exceeds the national average, said Barbara Sears, director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

The current state budget commits almost $50 million in general revenue funding and federal grants to improving birth outcomes and reducing racial and ethnic disparities, and builds on almost $87 million in investments made during the past six years.

Specifically, ODM is dedicating $26.8 million over the next two years to support community-driven proposals with proven track records that will help combat infant mortality at the local level.

Together with its five contracted managed-care plans and ODH, the ODM has engaged local leaders in nine Ohio communities – Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Stark, and Summit counties – to identify innovative projects that will connect women and infants to quality health care and care management.

“It’s promising to see the local community coalitions that have been formed in recent years to bring local coordination and leadership to addressing infant mortality. We realize this is a complex issue that will take all of us working together at the state and local levels to help more Ohio babies reach their first birthdays,” Sears said.

Ohio Medicaid and its five contracted managed care plans awarded funding to support proposals through the Mahoning/Youngstown Infant Mortality Coalition’s, “M/Y Baby’s 1st” program, and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. Funded programs include establishing and expanding Centering Pregnancy programs, hiring community health workers, and expanding a nurse home-visiting program.

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