To improve access to health care for mothers and infants in Texas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) announced a $1.2 million grant to the March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center® in Texas, whose home base is Houston, maternal morbidity, mortality and health disparities.
The grant is part of BCBSTX’s expanded Special Beginnings® maternal and infant health initiative, which includes regions such as Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Houston, RGV and Austin.
Funded by BCBSTX, the mobile health center will be March of Dimes’ sixth unit and will operate in collaboration with a select clinical provider. Its mission is to provide essential maternal programs that include support, education and health services directly to mothers and expectant mothers in their own communities.
By offering preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and newborn interventions, as well as primary care, wellness and preventative care, this mobile health center aims to address the access gaps that have long impacted the well-being of women and children in Texas.
Dr. Angela Moemeka, chief medical officer for Texas Medicaid at BCBSTX, emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.
“Improving maternal and infant health requires a collective effort,” Moemeka said. “We invest in nonprofits like March of Dimes so we can work together to break down barriers and increase impact at a hyperlocal level.”
“Given the clear historical and current statistics on maternal health disparities and maternal mental health, we recognize the role that comprehensive, values-based, person-centered and coordinated efforts play in ensuring health equity and quality care.”
A March of Dimes report titled “Where You Live Matters: Mother Care Deserts and the Crisis of Access and Equity” highlights the current issues in Texas:
- Differences in prenatal care: The report shows that 20.4% of women giving birth in Texas received either no or inadequate prenatal care. This number exceeds the US rate of 14.8% and underscores the urgent need for improved access to health care.
- Chronic health conditions and premature births: Texas women with chronic conditions have a 43% higher risk of preterm birth than women without a chronic condition, highlighting the critical role of accessible health care for this population.
- High vulnerability: Overall, women in Texas are highly vulnerable to adverse health care outcomes due to limited availability of reproductive health services.
Jen Torres, executive director of the Houston-area March of Dimes, emphasized her commitment to serving underinsured or uninsured individuals in underserved communities.
“Our approach is to create a non-traditional pathway for women and newborns to overcome barriers and access vital health services through our mobile health centers,” she explained.
March of Dimes is scheduled to launch in late 2024 or early 2025. It is customized from the ground up by a March of Dimes provider with experience in mobile units.
This 30-foot unit will feature two clinical rooms specifically designed for women’s healthcare, an intake area, a bathroom, a small laboratory area and a vaccine-compliant refrigeration system. Additionally, the unit includes a generator, power for lighting and air conditioning, and telematics.