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Louisiana has some of the worst outcomes for maternal and women’s health in our nation, and the numbers are especially significant for women of color. In Louisiana, four Black mothers die each year for every one white mother and Black infants die twice as often as white infants.
The March of Dimes recently issued a report showing access to maternity care worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for minority communities and rural residents – a frightening statistic in the face of existing inequities.
We know medical care is only one piece of overall health – other factors like income, education level, where you live, transportation, social support, health care access, availability of nutritious food, etc., play a significant role. All of us in the health system – providers, state officials, insurers and Medicaid plans, community groups, patient advocates – must come together to address the whole picture, making our home state a better place to have a baby and raise healthy, happy families.
I’m proud of the work we have accomplished through Healthy Blue to remove barriers to health care and improve outcomes for vulnerable populations. Our joint venture with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has allowed us to increase access to quality prenatal, maternal and postnatal care to women across Louisiana. But there’s always more that can be done.
For years, our companies have brought quality health services to communities across the state and as we’re poised to become one organization through the acquisition of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana by our parent company, Elevance Health, there is no limit to what we can accomplish for our families.
Not only will this acquisition bring more robust, leading capabilities to current members, it will also create a foundation, the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative, that will make a real difference in the everyday lives of our families and neighbors, especially in underserved communities.
With assets in excess of $3 billion, the Accelerate Louisiana Initiative is primed to bring real solutions to our state’s biggest challenges. The foundation’s mission is to improve the health and lives of the people of Louisiana, including Black mothers, by addressing health inequities, strengthening communities, and tackling the great need for care in Louisiana through a wide range of services including behavioral health, complex and chronic care programs and virtual care solutions.
In April, as we recognize Black Maternal Health Week and National Minority Health Month, we honor the mothers and children of color we have lost. We must continue to work together to create a future where everyone has access to quality, affordable and comprehensive care throughout and after pregnancy.
Dr. Christy Valentine Theard
President, Healthy Blue