Excellus BlueCross BlueShield announced this week the first round of recipients of Member and Community Health Improvement 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.
Two organizations in the Finger Lakes region were chosen to receive MACHI grants, including:
- Child & Family Resource Center Inc.’s Healthy Families program serving families and young children in Ontario, Seneca, and Yates counties. The program offers support services to expectant and new parents.
- Mount Hope Family Center’s Building Healthy Children program, providing home-based interventions for teen moms to address maternal mental health, parenting and child development, and trauma.
“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.”
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.
“We are excited and thankful to be awarded the Excellus BCBS MACHI grant for our Healthy Families Program,” says Julie Champion, executive director of Child and Family Resources. “New parents will be able to access much needed, concrete health and safety supports, community resources and helpful child development tools that will strengthen their ability to successfully provide a safe and nurturing environment for their infant to grow. Investments like this recognize that healthy communities start with healthy infants, children and families.”
“The Building Healthy Children (BHC) program is grateful to Excellus BCBS and we are proud to be a MACHI grant recipient. We appreciate the partnership and support that they are providing to the children and families we serve and to our Rochester community,” says Robin Sturm, Ed.D, program director of BHC. “Our mission in BHC is to partner with young mothers to raise healthy families through a team approach and to give babies the best start possible, which aligns so nicely with the mission and goals of Excellus BCBS.”
Six additional nonprofit organizations outside of the Rochester region will receive funding and include: Contact Community Services, Gerard Place, Integrated Community Alternatives Network, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Mohawk Valley Health System, and Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network.
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.