RICHARDSON, TX — August 9, 2023 — (NOTICIAS NEWSWIRE) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) today announced a multi-faceted expansion of its Special Beginnings program. The company will increase offerings for members and make significant investments in community partners aimed at improving the health of greater numbers of mothers and babies in Texas.
Special Beginnings is focused on improving maternal and infant health outcomes by increasing access to care, reducing care gaps and educating and engaging residents on a community level.
The move by BCBSTX to expand its Special Beginnings program to aid moms along their pre- and post-natal journey, comes in the wake of a state report that estimates 90 percent of the pregnancy-related deaths in Texas were preventable. A separate study also ranked Texas last among all 50 states for access to high-quality prenatal and maternal care. Rates of maternal and infant deaths remain unacceptably high nationwide and access to care for new moms, including behavioral health is a growing concern.
“Maternal and infant health are priorities nationwide, but we see the greatest opportunity to make a significant impact in Texas, where the need is so great,” said Dr. Mark Chassay, BCBSTX’s chief medical officer. “Blue Cross has served Texans for nearly 95 years, and we understand the unique needs and challenges faced across the state’s diverse regions. We’re now building on our long-time Special Beginnings program, adding additional resources and avenues to engage members through pregnancy planning, childbirth and beyond. We’re also increasing our reach into our communities by collaborating with trusted organizations and partners, leveraging their knowledge and expertise on a local level to help support healthier communities.”
Guided by recommendations in the 2022 Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee and Department of State Health Services Joint Biennial Report, the Special Beginnings program will focus on:
• Implementing quality-based maternal health programs that demonstrate a reduction in preterm and low-birth-weight babies, as well as obstetric and postpartum emergencies
• Expanding access to comprehensive health services, including behavioral health care during the preconception, prenatal and postpartum periods
• Increasing public awareness and community engagement to reduce maternal morbidity, mortality and health disparities, with an emphasis on diversifying and expanding the maternal health workforce.
“Changing the trajectory in Texas will require a collective and sustained effort to address the intersection of maternal and infant outcomes with other non-medical drivers of health,” said Dr. Angela Moemeka, chief medical officer of Texas Medicaid at BCBSTX. “A whole-health approach means our collaborations with community and academic partners will seek to address issues such as transportation, prenatal and postpartum care, implicit bias that can lead to inconsistent application of best practices, homelessness, inadequate housing impacting safety, medication adherence and stress. So much of our daily lives affects optimal health outcomes.”
The effort is statewide, but special attention will focus on the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Rio Grande Valley and Austin areas.
Special Beginnings is just one of the ways BCBSTX has demonstrated its commitment to improving maternal and infant health in the states it serves. Other highlights include:
• Expanding the reach of Centering Pregnancy’s individual patient care and group support model
• Funding distribution of hypertension kits to expectant mothers at-risk for high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
As well, BCBSTX recently awarded 2023-24 Blue ImpactSM grants to organizations with programs focusing on addressing maternal and infant health. Among those partners are:
The Blue Impact program advances BCBSTX’s ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of children and families in Texas — with a total of more than $23 million in grants awarded in the last 12+ years, impacting the lives of millions of people in Texas.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with more than 140,000 physicians and health care practitioners, and 520 hospitals to serve more than 7 million members in all 254 counties. BCBSTX is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) (which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico). Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.