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Kean bill to expand prenatal care signed into law

Legislation to improve maternal health care in New Jersey by expanding Medicaid coverage to include group prenatal care services was signed into law Friday.

Sponsored by Senate Republican leader Tom Kean, R-21st District, the bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 3405/Assembly Bill 5021, expands the State Medicaid program to cover group prenatal care services pursuant with guidelines set forth by CenteringPregnancy.

“Right now, moms and babies across the country are dying at disturbing rates from preventable complications,” said Kean. “Here in New Jersey, the statistics are particularly alarming, especially among women of color. Our state’s most vulnerable mothers and newborns deserve greater access to quality health care throughout pregnancy. The enactment of this law will help close the racial disparity gap, create stronger families, and save lives.”

The CenteringPregnancy model, developed by the Centering Healthcare Institute, is designed to enhance participation in group prenatal care from minority and low-income communities. S3405 was modeled after South Carolina’s recent implementation of a similar program.

According to Kean, in New Jersey, African American mothers are dying at disproportionately higher rates than white mothers during childbirth. Group prenatal care visits have been shown to virtually eliminate racial disparities in premature births.

This new law, along with the rest of our bipartisan maternal health care package, will increase the number of healthier and happier new moms and newborns. It’s a win for Garden State families.

– Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that “group prenatal care is an innovative and promising model with comparable pregnancy outcomes to individual prenatal care in the general population and improved outcome in some demographic groups.”

Kean in a statement said that group prenatal care services can also help reduce the rate of premature births, and provide cost savings to health care systems, as preterm births can be more than ten times more expensive than a full-term delivery.

“Increasing access to prenatal services will unquestionably lead to lower mortality and morbidity rates for mothers,” said Kean. “This new law, along with the rest of our bipartisan maternal health care package, will increase the number of healthier and happier new moms and newborns. It’s a win for Garden State families.”

The bills are part of a comprehensive bipartisan bill package sponsored by Sens. Kean, Joe Vitale, D-19th District; Bob Singer, R-30th District; and Ron Rice, D-28th District, to improve maternal, prenatal and newborn health care statewide.

Anthony Vecchione, senior reporter, NJBIZ
Anthony Vecchione
Anthony Vecchione covers health care for NJBIZ. You can contact him at: Avecchione@njbiz.com.

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