News Release

February 21, 2013

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Carter Kimble - (405) 522-7510

OHCA Receives Grant For Health Efforts For Expectant Mothers And Infants

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has been chosen as one of 27 recipients of the “Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns” Initiative awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Center. 

The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative, an effort by the Department of Health and Human Services, aims to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women. 

“OHCA is committed to improve the health of women and infants in Oklahoma,” said OHCA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sylvia Lopez.  “It is an honor to be recognized for our efforts and to receive an award with the name “strong start for mothers and newborns” which is exactly what we want to accomplish-giving them a healthy and happy start in life as new mothers or babies.”

The Strong Start effort promotes new approaches to prenatal care delivered in a group setting and evaluates enhanced prenatal care interventions for women enrolled in SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) who are at risk for having a preterm birth.  The goal of the initiative is to reduce the rate of preterm births, improve the health outcomes of pregnant women and newborns, and decrease the anticipated total cost of medical care during pregnancy, delivery and over the course of the first year of life for children born to mothers in SoonerCare.

OHCA has partnered with three clinic sites who serve SoonerCare members in Oklahoma to implement the strategy of enhanced prenatal care through a group visit model.  OHCA’s three clinic partners in this endeavor are the Oklahoma City Indian Health Clinic, the Choctaw Nation Tribal Clinic in Talihina and the Oklahoma State University Department of Obstetrics in Tulsa. Other non-clinical partners who are critical to the success of this initiative are the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Vital Statistics Department, and the March of Dimes.

Lopez added that OHCA, through a very competitive process open to all states including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, was one of 15 applicants to be selected to receive this grant for “enhanced prenatal care through the group visit” model. This model features peer-to-peer interaction in a supervised setting. Desired outcomes include: a health assessment, education and psychological and social support.