In partnership with Reno Doula Project, Anthem is focused on improving Nevada’s maternal and infant health rankings by offering specialty support services to Medicaid members
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has partnered with Reno Doula Project to launch a new maternal health program in Washoe County that makes doula services available to the Medicaid health plan’s pregnant members at no cost. This program was designed in response to Nevada’s poor health outcomes. According to America’s Health Rankings, Nevada ranks 46th of the 50 states when it comes to women and children’s health, mostly due to the state’s low physician-to-population ratios.
"Anthem recognizes the complexity of health and is committed to developing unique solutions that address the needs of the communities we serve," said Lisa Bogard, President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada, Medicaid. "By offering innovative solutions and addressing barriers, we can make healthcare simpler, more accessible and help improve the health of our state."
Doulas are professional labor assistants who provide education as well as physical and emotional support during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. They support pregnant people in both hospital and home birth settings by answering questions, addressing concerns and helping to develop a birth plan. Doulas do not replace birth partners; they work with them to improve birth experiences by offering a soothing voice, helping with breathing exercises and giving advice on labor positions. They can also advocate for birth parents and have been very helpful in filling support gaps during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when nurses and other medical professionals were stretched thin.
"Our partnership with Anthem is critical to our mission at the Reno Doula Project and offers the potential to dramatically improve birth outcomes in Northern Nevada," said Sarah Walton with the Reno Doula Project. "Anthem is enabling us to provide our services, education and support to vulnerable and at-risk women who would otherwise be unable to afford a doula. These are the people who need us most, and Anthem is connecting us."
According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, studies show that mothers living in underserved communities who are paired with a doula have better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers are four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience birth complications, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Research also indicates doula-assisted mothers have lower healthcare costs, reduced cesarean sections and fewer preterm births.
Women who are Medicaid beneficiaries are at the highest risk of poor birth outcomes in the United States, and women of color are especially vulnerable. These women face many barriers to accessing doulas, but Anthem and the Reno Doula Project are working together to remove access barriers and eliminate health disparities.
At the legislative level, more and more states are beginning to recognize how doulas can help decrease mortality and improve birth outcomes for women and infants covered by Medicaid. Minnesota and Oregon’s Medicaid programs have covered the cost of doula services for several years, and in 2019, Indiana and New Jersey passed bills providing Medicaid coverage for doula services. This year, Nevada introduced Assembly Bill 256, which calls for Medicaid coverage of doula services. If passed, it will facilitate and expedite the expansion of Anthem’s doula program beyond Northern Nevada.
Currently, Anthem is working with provider partners in Washoe County to make referrals for services provided by Reno Doula Project. More than a dozen pregnant women have already enrolled in Anthem’s doula program, and there is capacity for many more. Healthy, successful births among enrolled participants are already being reported.
Anthem Medicaid members in Northern Nevada who are pregnant and interested in learning more about doula services are encouraged to speak with their doctors, contact Anthem or submit an information request at www.renodoulaproject.com/anthem-medicaid-doula-pilot.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada helps improve health care access and quality for more than 600,000 Nevadans by developing innovative care management programs and services. Anthem’s top priority is the health and well-being of its members and enabling access to comprehensive health care. Through health education and community outreach programs, members are empowered to choose and sustain a healthy lifestyle. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Community Care health Plan of Nevada, Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. To learn more, visit www.anthem.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/anthemBCBS_news or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnthemMedicaid/.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210506005388/en/
Dionisia Malecki, Public Relations Director, Anthem