New Report Finds Alarming Trends in Maternal and Infant 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 by 18% and maternal mortality increased by 121.5% from 2019 to 2021, according to the Idaho Maternal and Infant Health Report 2023 published by Idaho Kids Covered, a statewide coalition of health care advocates and stakeholders supported by Idaho Voices for Children. Idaho Kids Covered originally published the Idaho Maternal and Infant Health Report in the fall of 2022. A year later, maternal and infant health needs in Idaho have only grown. However, when we look at state trends, almost every single measure of health data which was included in our last report continued in the wrong direction. The report paints an alarming picture of Idahos maternal and infant health landscape and outlines policy recommendations to ensure Idaho mothers and infants have access to the life-saving care they need when needed. it’s theirs.

The report found that Idaho continues to move in the wrong direction on key health indicators, including maternal and infant mortality, postpartum depression, preterm 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 mothers in Idaho experienced moderate to severe postpartum depression in the three months following pregnancy, nearly double the national average. Idaho is one of only four states that did not extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to a full year and recently became only state in the country no Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Furthermore, Idahos Medicaid income eligibility criteria for pregnant and postpartum women are ranked last in the nation and have not been updated since 1990. Increasing income eligibility levels for pregnant and postpartum women at the national average of 205% FPL, expanding Medicaid postpartum coverage to a full coverage year, and restoring the Maternal Mortality Review Committee will help address the acute maternal and infant health crisis in our state. Increasing access to care will ensure that mothers in Idaho, during pregnancy and in the critical months after labor and delivery, have consistent access to the life-saving care they need when they need it and help eliminate preventable maternal deaths.

The outlook for children’s health and access to care is equally alarming. Idaho ranks second to last 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, Idahos CHIP income eligibility criteria for children no longer -updated since 2004. Idaho has an estimated 28,400 uninsured children, most of whose families earn just a little more. the income limits. Almost half (43.5%) of Idahos infants and toddlers live in low-income households. Idaho families are struggling financially with the rising cost of gas, groceries, child care, and other everyday expenses. Raising CHIP income eligibility limits so more Idaho children can access care is a smart investment in our states future because Medicaid coverage is associated with improved health and outcomes. -education for children.

As policymakers confront Idahos growing maternal and child health needs, advancing policy solutions that prioritize consistent health coverage and reliable access to care will be essential for health and well-being. of Idaho families. There is a glimmer of hope that Idaho leaders will take steps to address this crisis before it gets worse. Idahos Department of Health and Welfare has requested funds in its budget to implement 12 months of Medicaid coverage after childbirth but that is only the first step and there are many hurdles to overcome.

Hopefully Idaho leaders will move forward to extend postpartum coverage and increase income eligibility levels for pregnancy and child coverage in their upcoming legislative session, because this crisis can no longer be ignored.

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