Gov. Hutchinson discusses plans to improve maternal health care

According to a news release, Gov. Hutchinson stated he asked both departments to make...
According to a news release, Gov. Hutchinson stated he asked both departments to make recommendations as to how the state can do more and how to improve maternal health care in Arkansas, and the safety and wellbeing of children.(Source: KAIT-TV)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is hoping to improve the lives of children and maternal health care.

The governor held a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 9, joined by members of the General Assembly, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Health.

According to a news release, Gov. Hutchinson stated he asked both departments to make recommendations as to how the state can do more and how to improve maternal health care in Arkansas, and the safety and wellbeing of children.

The governor said DHS is awaiting CMS approval of the Maternal Life360 Home program, making nearly 5,000 women enrolled in ARHOME eligible for home visitations and intensive care coordination services for high-risk pregnancies and for children after birth.

The news release also stated DHS plans to seek federal approval to extend Maternal Life360 Home visitation services to all high-risk pregnant women on Medicaid, which would make an additional 5,000 pregnant women eligible for these services annually.

Gov. Hutchinson said the waiver is expected to be granted by September, with services to begin in Jan. 2023.

The second proposal would expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant women up to 212% of the federal poverty level. The coverage is currently limited to only covering the child or conditions related to the pregnancy.

“It is important after birth that the mom has more complete health care coverage,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “That will save children’s lives, as well as the health of the mom.”

The expanded services would include behavioral health services and non-pregnancy medical conditions. DHS projects the coverage would begin in Jan. 2023, making more than 2,000 pregnant women eligible annually for these expanded services.

Gov. Hutchinson also announced he would authorize, with legislative support, the use of $1.7 million to provide support payments for foster parents who have foster children in provisional placements.

The governor also explained, that in the future, the state needs to increase traditional foster parents’ monthly board payments. DHS will submit plans in 2023 requesting additional revenue for the fiscal year 2024 to increase board payment amounts.

Regarding the goal of DHS’ proposals, Gov. Hutchinson said they want to reach more women to take advantage of existing home visiting programs and partners through expanded outreach.

The news release said the ADH would also be implementing a resource call line for Arkansans to get information on pregnancy and parenting resources in their area. The services would include those provided by the ADH, DHS, other state agencies, and charitable organizations focusing on pregnancy resources.

The number for the call line is 1-855-ARK-MOMS (275-6667).

You can watch Gov. Hutchinson’s news conference here.

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