Medicaid Managed Care is Essential for Improving Maternal Health Outcomes

As the predominant Medicaid service delivery system in most states across the country, Medicaid managed care provides vital care and services to millions of pregnant and postpartum mothers.

Given very concerning maternal health outcome trends — including mothers of color and mothers in rural areas being at significantly higher risk for maternal mortality and giving birth more often to preterm or low-birthweight infants — Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) are working diligently to help address these disparities and ensure a healthy pregnancy for mothers and their children by covering essential services and supporting local community initiatives.

Addressing Maternal Health Disparities

MCOs are advancing maternal health equity by providing low-income mothers with culturally competent services that are targeted to assist women before, during, and after pregnancy.

MCOs offer a range of care options for women during pregnancy including nutritional assistance, home visits, and midwives and doulas. Throughout the entire pregnancy, specialty case managers can coordinate management and treatment tailored to the mother’s specific needs. Many states also work directly with MCOs to tackle health disparities. In Michigan, managed care plans are working directly with the state to develop interventions to target social determinants of health, such as helping mothers access nutritional foods and reducing gaps in care received by women of color.

Advancing Maternal Health

MCOs are implementing unique programs and services to advance maternal health. Notable offerings include:

  • Centene identifies high-risk pregnancies and uses care coordination and disease management in their Start Smart for Your Baby program, which is helping participating mothers deliver healthier babies.
  • Molina Healthcare is supporting Michigan mothers-to-be, including teens and high-risk populations, through its Moms of Molina (M.O.M.) Program. M.O.M. connects pregnant women with a special nurse coordinator to work with their doctors to ensure the mother and baby get the care they need, including helping to find a doctor, arrange transportation to doctor visits, finding counseling services, and more.
  • AmeriHealth Caritas offers Bright Start for Medicaid, a prenatal program that helps pregnant enrollees find an OB/GYN or midwife, create a personalized birth plan, and schedule transportation to appointments. Care Connectors in the program support mothers with high-risk pregnancies to ensure quality care and access to resources.
  • Health Care Service Corporation launched a Health Equity program in Illinois, partnering with health systems across the state to improve health care quality in minority groups. The program examines disparities in maternal care and works to improve cultural competency in the medical workforce.

Medicaid managed care helps provide millions of low-income mothers with the maternal health care they need. To learn more about Medicaid’s role in maternal health, click here.