Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas' Special Beginnings® initiative to fund additional CenteringPregnancy sites statewide

Collaboration will support 20 more locations with the aim to help improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Texas 

RICHARDSON, Texas, Nov. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) continues its collaboration with Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI) to add up to 20 additional CenteringPregnancy sites as part of BCBSTX’s statewide evolved Special Beginnings® initiative to improve health outcomes for Texas moms and babies.

CHI’s CenteringPregnancy is a nationally-recognized, group-care model that brings together eight to 10 pregnant women – all with similar due dates – and follows the recommended schedule of prenatal visits. Each visit is 90 minutes to two hours, giving women more time with their providers as well as group time to grow a support system with other pregnant moms.

Numerous studies have shown that CenteringPregnancy practices are able to improve health outcomes for mothers and their babies as well as reduce health disparities. This includes lowering the risk of preterm births by 33 to 47 percent, reducing low birth weights, increasing rates of breastfeeding and postpartum depression screening and providing education about healthy pregnancy spacing.

BCBSTX’s collaboration with CHI began in 2020 and has resulted in awarding seven Texas provider locations with grants to implement CenteringPregnancy’s group model. BCBSTX’s additional $1 million grant will support up to 20 more sites with a focus on the Special Beginnings initiative’s target regions: Austin/Central Texas, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Rio Grande Valley areas.

“In order to move the needle on maternal and infant health outcomes, we want to help mobilize tools like CenteringPregnancy and equip providers and expectant mothers with the support they need,” said Dr. Mark Chassay, BCBSTX vice president and chief medical officer. “We have been providing health insurance in Texas for almost 95 years. We invest in, as well as believe in, the power of collaboration that impacts the health of our communities, and this case, the health of mothers and babies in Texas.”

Grants will fund the implementation of the CenteringPregnancy model at interested Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), Indian Health Services (IHS), Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other community health practice locations. The funding will be utilized to offer in-kind services, including customized implementation plans, facilitation training for staff, curriculum materials and continuing quality assurance from CHI, leading up to Centering accreditation for a site.

“Our model encourages moms to actively engage in their care, by recording their own health data, and speaking up during group discussions about their concerns and needs, as well as during their private time with their provider,” said Tammea Tyler, CHI Chief Executive Officer. “Equipping mothers with the tools for positive pregnancies includes offering information and resources about everything from nutrition, common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and infant care.”

This grant builds on BCBSTX’s long-standing maternal and infant care programs as well as relationships with trusted local community organizations, health care providers and thought leaders to leverage their knowledge, experience and talents to increase access to care, reduce care gaps and educate and engage Texans at a local level.

BCBSTX’s statewide expanded Special Beginnings® initiative aims to improve health outcomes for Texas moms and babies following data that showed nine out of 10 maternal deaths in Texas were preventable. Other recently announced collaborations include:

  • Huston-Tillotson University to train doulas, midwives, lactation consultants and support maternal health education in Central Texas;
  • Listening sessions through Bracane to engage mothers of all backgrounds and experiences across the state, including pregnant women, as well as maternal health care providers;
  • BCBSTX-funded March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center to increase access to maternal and infant care in Houston with the March of Dimes’ sixth unit and first in Texas;
  • Tech-enabled platforms Delfina and InovCares to support maternal health care providers and mothers with tools to promote heathier pregnancies and birth outcomes; and
  • $3.7 million to support, scale community non-profit programming that increases access to maternal, infant health care across Texas.
  • BCBSTX’s Special Beginnings expansion aligns with recommendations in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s 2021 and 2022 maternal health equity reports, and focuses on:
  • Implementing quality-based maternal health programs that demonstrate a reduction in preterm/low birth weight babies and obstetric and postpartum emergencies;
  • Expanding access to comprehensive health services, including behavioral health care, from preconception through postpartum periods; and
  • Increasing public awareness and community engagement to reduce maternal morbidities, mortalities and health disparities, including the expansion of the maternal health workforce.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with more than 140,000 physicians and health care practitioners, and 520 hospitals to serve more than 7 million members in all 254 counties. BCBSTX is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) (which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico). Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. | | | | BCBSTX Community Highlights

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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas' Special Beginnings® initiative to fund additional CenteringPregnancy sites statewide WeeklyReviewer

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