New report finds worrying trends in maternal and child health in Idaho and calls for improvements in health care access

By Ivy Smith, Health Policy Specialist at Idaho Voices for Children

Infant mortality in Idaho increased 18% and maternal mortality increased 121.5% from 2019 to 2021, according to the Idaho Maternal and Child Health Report 2023, published by Idaho Kids Covered, a coalition of health care advocates and stakeholders supported by Idaho Voices for Children. There is a statewide alliance. , Idaho Kids Covered originally published the Fall 2022 Idaho Maternal and Child Health Report. One year later, maternal and child health needs in Idaho have only increased. Still, when we look at the trends in the state, Almost every single health data metric Continues in the wrong direction covered in our previous report. The report paints a worrying picture of Idaho’s maternal and child health landscape and outlines policy recommendations to ensure that Idaho’s mothers and babies have access to life-saving care when they need it.

The report found that Idaho is moving in the wrong direction on key health indicators, including maternal and infant mortality, postpartum depression, premature and low birth weight babies, and access to prenatal care. About 56% of pregnancy-related deaths in 2021 occurred between 43 and 365 days after birth; And 25% of Idaho mothers experienced moderate to severe postpartum depression in the three months following pregnancy, nearly double the national average. Idaho is one of four states that have not and recently became the first to expand Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to one year. the only state in the country Without Maternal Death Review Committee. Additionally, Idaho’s Medicaid income eligibility criteria for pregnant and postpartum women ranks last in the nation and has not been updated since 1990. Increasing the income eligibility level for pregnant and postpartum women to the national average of 205% FPL, fully expanding Medicaid postpartum coverage. year, and reinstating the Maternal Death Review Committee will help address the serious maternal and child health crisis in our state. Expanding access to care will ensure that during pregnancy and in the critical months following labor and delivery, Idaho mothers have consistent access to life-saving care when they need it and help eliminate preventable maternal deaths. Will get it.

The outlook for children’s health and access to care was equally worrying. Idaho ranks second in the nation in providing affordable health insurance for children. The report found that 85% of Idaho children missed doctor-recommended developmental screenings in 2021. What’s more, the Idaho CHIP income eligibility criteria for children have not been updated since 2004. There are an estimated 28,400 children in Idaho, the majority of whom are uninsured, most of whose families make a little more than that. Income limit. Nearly half (43.5%) of Idaho’s infants and toddlers are living in low-income households. Idaho families are struggling financially with the rising costs of gas, groceries, child care and other daily expenses. Raising CHIP income eligibility limits so more Idaho children can access care is a smart investment in our state’s future because Medicaid coverage is linked to better health and educational outcomes for children.

As policymakers face Idaho’s growing maternal and child health needs, advancing policy solutions that prioritize consistent health coverage and reliable access to care will be critical to the health and well-being of Idaho families. There is a glimmer of hope that Idaho leaders will take action to address this crisis before it gets worse. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has requested funding in its budget to implement 12-month postpartum Medicaid coverage, but this is just the first step and there are still many more hurdles to overcome.

Let’s hope Idaho leaders move forward during their upcoming legislative session to expand postpartum coverage and raise income eligibility levels for pregnancy and child coverage, because this crisis can no longer be ignored.

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