New report shows Idaho's maternal and infant health trends worsening. How advocates want to to fix it.

Posted at 4:56 PM, Sep 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 18:56:17-04

A new report by Idaho Kids Covered shows Idaho's maternal and infant health trends are worsening.

Idaho Kids Covered recently released a new report claiming 100% of Idaho's maternal deaths in 2018 and 2019 were preventable. Health Advocates are calling on lawmakers to improve support for pregnant women and their babies.

"Maternal and infant mortality rates are increasing, and many women suffer from untreated postpartum depression. Idaho's rates are higher than the national average," said Hillarie Hagen, health policy associate for Idaho Kids Covered.

Despite growing needs, insurance rates for low-income families lag behind other states. Idaho's income eligibility level for pregnant women in Medicaid ranks last in the nation. Medicaid coverage for pregnancy ends after just 60 days postpartum, cutting them off at a critical time for new mothers. A policy recommendation would be to extend that to a full year.

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"We have seen that families struggling financially are more likely to have negative health outcomes for moms and babies," said Hagen.

Currently, two-thirds of the toddlers in the state are in low-income families. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants receive six healthcare exams during their first year. However, in 2020, 10% of Idaho's infants did not receive a single exam.

"And so we have an opportunity to increase outreach and education to help connect them better to the services they qualify for," said Hillarie Hagen.

The largest health policy advocacy network in the state, Idaho Kids Covered, called upon lawmakers to respond immediately and implement policies that meaningfully support the health of mothers and their babies.