Letters to the Editor

June 12, 2014

Thursday letters: S.C. improving birth outcomes

For all of the debate on health-care policy in this country, we can all agree on one thing: Improving access to quality health care is only the first step to building a healthier America. Health insurers — commercial, Medicare and Medicaid alike — need to make sure that the health care they are providing addresses the specific needs of the patients they serve. In South Carolina, one important need is improving birth outcomes.

For all of the debate on health-care policy in this country, we can all agree on one thing: Improving access to quality health care is only the first step to building a healthier America. Health insurers — commercial, Medicare and Medicaid alike — need to make sure that the health care they are providing addresses the specific needs of the patients they serve. In South Carolina, one important need is improving birth outcomes.

Fortunately, Tony Keck, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, launched the Birth Outcomes Initiative in July 2011 to help our children start their lives on the right foot. This multi-stakeholder collaborative is reducing neonatal intensive care unit admissions and unwarranted elective inductions before 39 weeks.

One reason the initiative works is that it recognizes that multiple factors contribute to the state’s high infant mortality rate, including the health of the mother, access to care, level of education and socioeconomic status.

The Birth Outcomes Initiative proves that there are effective and far-reaching solutions already in place to counter existing problems. By offering services and programs that fit the needs of the people we serve, the health plans that work with Medicaid are building a healthier South Carolina.

Citizens can make a difference, too, by supporting the March of Dimes’ efforts to raise awareness and funds to prevent premature birth. March for Babies — the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser — is coming up this fall. Visit marchofdimes.com/southcarolina for more information.

Cindy Helling

Executive director, Select Health of South Carolina

North Charleston

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