The bill calls for:
- Improving data collection and sharing;
- Giving pregnant women priority for housing assistance and authorizing pilot projects for rental help for women in high-risk pregnancies;
- Making post-partum home visits more effective by basing payment on outcomes rather than processes; and
- Mandating that the state's tobacco cessation plan focus on Medicaid recipients.
The main causes of infant mortality are pre-term births, sleep-related deaths and birth defects. Spacing pregnancies, quitting smoking and practicing safe sleep can reduce infant mortality.
Ohio has been trying to raise public awareness of the problem for the last several years and began pushing programs such as hormone treatments for pregnant women at risk of pre-term delivery, increasing help for pregnant women to get them to quit smoking or using drugs, and sharing safe-sleeping information with new parents.
Jones said Ohio spends more on health care than 39 other states but largely has poor outcomes to show for it.
“Spending more money is just not the answer,” she said. “We have tried that and it has failed.”
Medicaid pays for roughly half of all deliveries in Ohio. Premature babies are very costly. Jones noted that in Hamilton County alone, delaying early deliveries by just one week saves $25 million a year and not doing so costs $400 million a year.
The bill now heads to the Ohio House for consideration.