If we want healthy babies in North Carolina, we have to have healthy moms and if we want moms to be healthy, then women need to be healthy before they become moms.
This is not rocket science, it is simple common sense. If a woman has diabetes or heart disease and doesn’t know it or it is left untreated, and she becomes pregnant, her life and health are at greater risk and so are the life and health of her unborn child. Preconception health is essential of both future moms and their babies.
North Carolina Medicaid currently only covers woman after they become pregnant, missing the most important opportunity to impact the health of future generations.
North Carolina used to have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, but since 1991, when Governor Jim Martin and the General Assembly created the Child Fatality Task Force, that infant mortality rate has come down significantly. The problem now is that rate has leveled off. We are not seeing the declines in this rate that we used to and in 2019, North Carolina’s overall infant mortality rate was 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births, higher than the national average of 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births.
We know that babies’ chances survival are closely tied to the health of their mothers. We also know that a mom’s chances of surviving pregnancy and childbirth is much higher if she is healthy going into the pregnancy. Yet, our state persists in denying an affordable coverage option to women who don’t qualify for Medicaid but make too little to get a subsidy on the health insurance marketplace.
All women of child bearing age should have access to regular medical and preventive care so that they are physically and emotionally ready to be a parent.
Closing our state’s coverage gap would provide this affordable option for potential moms and would improve overall health prior to pregnancy and increase access to prenatal care.
Like I said above, “If you want healthy babies, you must have healthy moms first.”