Kasich Administration Undermines Infant Mortality Efforts

Yesterday it was reported that the Kasich administration was initiating a push to raise awareness about Ohio’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate.

Ohio has the third-worst infant mortality rate in the United States and that rate is going up while the national average is declining. Today, nearly 8 in 1000 Ohio babies die in the first year of life – and the number is significantly higher among African-American babies.

However, we also learned yesterday that the Kasich administration has no plans to promote awareness of benefits available under the new national healthcare law that could make treatment available to more women and children. As a result, nonprofit groups will be left to get the word out about benefits. West Virginia plans to spend 18 times as much per capita on outreach.

A major cause of infant mortality is prematurity, and preventive care during pregnancy can significantly reduce that risk. Obamacare covers 100% of the cost preventive care, such as gestational diabetes screening, eliminating costly co-pays as a barrier to women trying to have a healthy pregnancy.

my 6-week premature baby
The author’s 6-week premature baby, who was lucky enough to receive high-quality care.

The law further requires all insurance policies offer maternity coverage, something only 12 percent of plans sold on the private market do today. And the law covers more women before they become pregnant, both through the expansion of Medicaid to low-income women and through subsidies for the purchase of private healthcare on state based purchasing exchanges for those with average incomes.

Without informing women about the benefits available to them under the new healthcare law, fewer Ohio women and babies will benefit from prenatal and maternal care.

We get it. The Tea Party and other far-right elements of the Republican party hate Obamacare. But by playing to the base, the Governor is undermining its own stated efforts to lower Ohio’s embarrassingly high rate of infant mortality.