Budget Cuts Threaten To Increase Infant Mortality

The state budget is already squeezing some programs and cutting others altogether, but some warn that budget cuts could claim lives.

Some advocacy groups say the 39 percent cut in maternity care coordination services will hit the women served by local Health Departments, and their babies, hard. The past president of the North Carolina Pediatric Society, Dr. Olson Huff says, “"Pregnancy is such a critical time. Women and families need all the support they can get during this period. Maternity Care Coordination has been extremely effective, not only in reducing infant deaths, but Medicaid costs for infant intensive care.”

In 1988 North Carolina had the worst infant mortality rate in the nation. Of 1,000 live births, 13 died that year. Huff goes as far as to say eliminating Maternity Care Coordination “is likely to return us to the infant death levels we experienced more than a decade ago."

The result of these budget cuts could be far reaching. "Local health directors have indicated that if these reductions are sustained, more than 1,100 local jobs are in jeopardy", said Lynette Tolson, Executive Director of the NC Public Health Association. "Maternity Care Coordination and other support services might last only a few months."

Advocacy groups are pleading with legislators and the Department of Health and Human Services to change course on these budget cuts.

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