Press Release
Senator Tom Kean, Jr. Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21)
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Contact: Erin Darreff / (609) 847-3600
February 21, 2019
Kean/Vitale Bill to Help NJ Moms, Address Maternal & Infant Mortality Rates Passes Senate

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Bill Would Improve Statewide Medicaid Data Analysis Practices

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senate Health Committee Chair Joe Vitale to improve the health, well-being and safety of New Jersey’s expectant mothers and newborns on Medicaid has passed the New Jersey Senate.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate Leader Tom Kean and Senate Health Chair Joe Vitale to improve the health, well-being and safety of expectant mothers and newborns on Medicaid has passed the Senate. (©iStock)

New Jersey’s maternal and infant mortality rates are some of the highest in the country, especially for African Americans. S-3406 would address this crisis by improving certain Medicaid data analysis and healthcare practices.

“New Jersey mothers and their newborn babies are dying at alarming rates,” Senator Kean (R-21) said. “By analyzing Medicaid data, we can identify risk factors and break down barriers to care that are putting women and children in harm’s way. This bill, along with the rest of our bipartisan maternal healthcare package, will help close the racial disparity gap, build stronger families, and save lives.”

“The first step to helping mothers is to know what they need,” Senator Vitale said. “By standardizing the process, collecting the data and partnering with the right organizations we can match mothers with the services and care they need, when they need it. This can make a difference in the lives of thousands of mothers and children across the state.”

Kean and Vitale’s bill, S-3406, systematizes the requirements for completing the Perinatal Risk Assessment form by Medicaid providers. S-3406 also requires the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services to analyze the Perinatal Risk Assessment data gathered to find and highlight common risk factors of Medicaid recipients during pregnancy.

Currently, the Perinatal Risk Assessment form is intended to identify prenatal risk factors. It also is used to refer eligible families to evidence-based home visiting programs.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2011 to 2014 there were 12 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women. In comparison, there were 40 deaths per 100,000 births for African American women. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that African American pregnant and new mothers die at around the same rate as women in Uzbekistan.

“No one, especially a newborn or new mom should lose their life as a result of an preventable complication, but it’s happening all the time in our state, and around the country,” Kean added. “New Jersey must be proactive in the fight to improve medical care for all families, regardless of their race or socioeconomic means. We must do more to ensure New Jersey’s children get a strong and healthy start today, so they can be the leaders of tomorrow.”

S-3406 is part of a comprehensive bipartisan bill package sponsored by Senator Tom Kean, Senator Joe Vitale, Senator Bob Singer, and Senator Ron Rice to improve maternal, prenatal, and newborn healthcare Statewide.

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