Centene's Efforts to Combat the Maternal Health Crisis


Father and mother looking at each other laughing, father holding their baby

Our nation is facing what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deemed a National Maternal Health Crisis, bringing to light the alarming impact inequities have on maternal mortality and morbidity. Maternal Health Awareness Day, observed every January, adopted this year’s theme “Access in Crisis” to encourage communities, policy makers and all who value equity in care to address the increasing risks faced by pregnant individuals who struggle to find necessary care. 

Known as maternity care deserts, communities across the country face provider and delivery unit shortages that are reported to impact more than one-third of U.S. counties, affecting up to 6.9 million people and almost 500,000 births. [1],[2]  At Centene, we are committed to innovating programs, outreach and technology to improve access to care and health outcomes because many of the communities we serve are directly impacted by the disparities that contribute to poor maternal outcomes in both rural and urban settings. 

Specifically, Centene’s flagship maternity program, Start Smart for Your Baby®, guides members through their pregnancy journey, taking into account the many aspects of a pregnant individual’s potential barriers to a healthy pregnancy, delivery and postpartum. We continue to evolve our efforts to fit the nuanced needs of the communities we serve. 

For example, we recently piloted the Maternal Community Health Worker Certification program, which was designed by Centene's cross-functional Maternal Child Health Team of experts. This program was developed to combine community health worker skills and competencies with a special focus on perinatal health to reach more members and solve for several key barriers they face. 

At Centene, we are committed to continuing to take steps toward ensuring physical, mental and societal needs of our members are met at the onset of pregnancy through postpartum to best serve those facing health disparities, maternal and infant mortality, and pregnancy-related complications. Combatting this crisis requires innovative, collaborative approaches to care, and our frontline health workers serve as trusted partners in the communities we serve to influence positive change in the lives of our pregnant members and their infants. 

[1] https://www.acog.org/advocacy/policy-priorities/maternal-mortality-prevention/maternal-health-awareness-day

[2] https://www.marchofdimes.org/maternity-care-deserts-report