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Press Releases

$4.2M Federal Grant To Support Shelby County Pregnant Teens, Young Moms

Press Release from Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Administration; Oct. 1, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced Tennessee has received a three-year $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support pregnant and parenting teens and women. The money will be used to implement the Pregnancy and Parenting Success Program in Shelby County, which leads the state in births to teen mothers.

“I am pleased this grant is driving improvements in Shelby County, an area that is truly the epicenter of teen pregnancy in Tennessee,” said Bredesen. “The lessons we learn in tackling this important issue in West Tennessee can also be applied in other parts of the state.”

The funded project Pregnancy and Parenting Success will work to improve birth and early childhood outcomes by expanding, enhancing and coordinating programs that promote health, education and social services for pregnant and parenting teens and women.

With 20 percent of all teen births in the state, Shelby County leads Tennessee in births to teen mothers. The grant for Shelby County was sought due to the area’s high rate of teen births and its robust network of community stakeholders with a primary focus on coordinating a full range of services for children pre-conception through age eight. The grant will draw from this existing infrastructure to achieve project goals.

Specifically, Pregnancy and Parenting Success will seek to:

·          Improve school attendance and graduation rates among pregnant and parenting teens

·          Improve birth outcomes for teen mothers and other women at high-risk of pre-term or low-birth-weight babies

·          Increase attainment of positive early childhood outcomes

·          Improve economic circumstance of teen parents

Strategies to accomplish project goals include:

·          Identify needs of pregnant and parenting teens in the community

·          Provide a school-based continuum of services to teens

·          Provide concrete resources for pregnant and parenting teens

·          Enhance public education and outreach

“Improving outcomes for pregnant and parenting teens requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach,” said Dr. Michael Warren, medical director for the Office of Children’s Care Coordination. “We are committed to implementing programs that offer the best tools and outcomes to parenting teens who daily face a myriad of challenges.”

Compared to adults who are parents, teen parents are more likely to live in poverty, less likely to marry, more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to earn a GED certificate. Additionally, teen mothers are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care and more likely to have babies at low birth weights.

The grant of $4.2 million over three years was awarded through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act. The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a competitive grant program that helps states and tribes support pregnant and parenting teens and women. The grants help fund a seamless network of supportive services to help pregnant and parenting teens and women complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing and other critical support.

Tennessee is one of 17 states and tribes to receive a grant from a $27 million fund to support pregnant and parenting teens and women in states and tribes across the country.

For additional information about the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah.

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Press Releases

Bredesen Joins Infant Mortality ‘Stay the Course’ Summit

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Sept. 13, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today joined Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Dr. Michael Warren, medical director for the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, for the Infant Mortality Stay the Course Summit 2010 in Memphis. The event highlighted continued efforts to improve infant mortality rates in Tennessee.

“The improvements that have been made as a result of the work of the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination and partnering organizations are a tremendous achievement. We’re here today not only to celebrate that progress but to reaffirm our commitment to this issue,” said Bredesen “While we’ve seen the number of infant deaths decline, we must continue to do everything we can to improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population.”

During today’s summit, Bredesen announced a three-year $1.6 million grant from the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination that will provide continued funding for the Centering Pregnancy and Community Voice programs in Shelby County. These programs are designed to improve birth outcomes and reduce infant mortality rates.

“Infant mortality impacts us all whether we are health providers, community agency workers, government officials, family members, business people, or educators,” said Warren. “It is up to all of us to continue to work together towards a future where more Tennessee babies reach their first birthday. We can do it, and I know this community will continue to lead the way in those efforts.”

The summit highlighted work that has been done to combat infant mortality in Tennessee, progress that has been made and continued efforts for the future. The work and accomplishments of original infant mortality summit pioneers and individuals involved in grassroots efforts were recognized and the program included personal stories of program partners and participants.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday. Although the rate of infant deaths is declining in Tennessee, statistics show the need for continued efforts to improve birth outcomes. In 2010, Tennessee was ranked 44th in the nation for its infant mortality rate, which represents an improvement from a rank of 47th in 2009.

Following the first infant mortality summit held in April of 2006, Bredesen launched a statewide initiative to combat Tennessee’s crisis of infant mortality. To date, $8.7 million has been spent to improve women’s health and reduce infant mortality in Tennessee, spanning programs in health education, home visiting and clinical care for mothers and babies.

The Office of Children’s Care Coordination provides funding and works with local community programs to help determine the solutions best suited to address the issues unique to individual communities. Many of these programs across the state will be holding special events during Infant Mortality Awareness Month to highlight the infant mortality reduction initiatives in their communities. A schedule of other Infant Mortality Awareness Month activities is online at: http://news.tennesseeanytime.org/node/5862.

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Press Releases

Report Gives TennCare Orgs High Marks on Child Health Measures

State of Tennessee Press Release, September 3, 2010:

NASHVILLE — A new report shows continued improvement in the overall quality of health care provided to TennCare members through their managed care organizations.

The report, 2010 HEDIS/CAHPS Report: A Comparative Analysis of Audited Results from TennCare Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), shows an increase in all child health measures, including childhood immunization status, lead screening in children, appropriate treatment for children with upper respiratory infection, and well-child and adolescent visits.

The weighted state rate for children and adolescents’ access to primary care practitioners also exceeded the national Medicaid average in all age groups. Rates for prenatal and postpartum care also improved, with timeliness of prenatal care improving to 81 percent in 2010 from 77 percent in 2008.

“This report is a valuable tool in evaluating the quality and performance of our managed care organizations, which helps us ensure the best possible health care coverage for TennCare members,” said Darin Gordon, Director of TennCare. “I’m pleased to see continued improvement in performance, especially in the areas of child health indicators and pregnancy- related measures. It has long been a goal of the Bureau to provide the highest quality of care to this vulnerable population.”

The HEDIS/CAHPS 2010 report marks the first year of statewide reporting of behavioral health measures following the integration of medical-behavioral health services among TennCare’s health plans. The measures included in the report will serve as a baseline for ongoing evaluation of the integrated care model. These early results indicate strong performance by the MCOs, with rates exceeding the national Medicaid average for measures related to antidepressant medication management, follow-up care for children prescribed to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication and initiation and ongoing treatment of substance abuse.

Improvement was also seen in cholesterol management for patients with cardiovascular conditions, controlling high blood pressure, annual monitoring for patients on persistent medications, and medical assistance with smoking and tobacco use cessation. Additionally, every comprehensive diabetes care measure for adults improved from HEDIS 2008.

Since TennCare’s inception, the Bureau has implemented a number of efforts to enhance the quality of health care provided by the state of Tennessee. Many of these efforts involve evaluating the state’s managed care organizations to make sure they are meeting the needs of TennCare’s enrollees—relying upon objective measurements to drive innovation and value. Although widely used in the commercial market, in 2006 Tennessee became the first state in the country to require National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) certification across its Medicaid managed care network.

NCQA is an independent, nonprofit organization that assesses and scores managed care organization performance in the areas of quality improvement, utilization management, provider credentialing and member rights and responsibilities. As part of the NCQA accreditation process, TennCare MCOs are also required to report a full Health Care Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). HEDIS is a set of standardized performance measures that makes it possible to track performance over time, compare MCO performance to national benchmarks and compare performance across MCOs on an “apples-to-apples” basis.

Included in HEDIS, is the Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems (CAHPS), which is a set of standardized surveys used to measure members’ satisfaction with their care. It is a survey tool used widely for measuring consumer satisfaction with the quality of care and customer service provided by health plans.

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Press Releases

Tennessee Events Focus on Reducing Infant Deaths

State of Tennessee Press Release; Sept. 1, 2010:

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

NASHVILLE – As part of the observance of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, Governor Phil Bredesen, the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, the City of Memphis and Shelby County will join together Monday, September 13 in Memphis to spotlight continued efforts to improve infant mortality rates in Tennessee. The event is one of many planned across the state during the month of September to remind Tennesseans of the importance of preconception and prenatal care in reducing the number of infant deaths in Tennessee.

“The Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, local officials and partnering organizations are putting in place the best and most successful programs from across the country to give babies the very best chance of reaching their first birthday,” said Bredesen. “While we’ve seen the number of infant deaths decline, we must continue to do everything we can to improve the health outcomes for this vulnerable population.”

“We’ve taken significant steps since 2006 to give every child born in Tennessee a better chance of reaching his or her first birthday, and we’re seeing positive results,” said Dr. Michael D. Warren, who serves as medical director for the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination. “We will continue to work with communities to help them build a foundation for programs that provide critical services, education and research to combat infant mortality in Tennessee.”

The Infant Mortality Staying the Course Summit on September 13 will recognize the work and accomplishments of original infant mortality summit pioneers and individuals involved in grassroots efforts. The program will include personal stories of program partners and participants. Governor Bredesen, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell will speak at the event.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday. Although the rate of infant deaths is declining in Tennessee, statistics show the need for continued efforts to improve birth outcomes. In 2010, Tennessee was ranked 44th in the nation for its infant mortality rate, which represents an improvement from a rank of 47th in 2009.

Following the first infant mortality summit held in April of 2006, Bredesen launched a statewide initiative to combat Tennessee’s crisis of infant mortality. To date, $8.7 million has been spent to improve women’s health and reduce infant mortality in Tennessee, spanning programs in health education, home visiting and clinical care for mothers and babies.

The Office of Children’s Care Coordination provides funding and works with local community programs to help determine the solutions best suited to address the issues unique to individual communities. Many of these programs across the state will be holding special events during Infant Mortality Awareness Month to highlight the infant mortality reduction initiatives in their communities.

A list of events by county is as follows:

Campbell County

September 9 – Mayor’s Proclamation Event

10:00 a.m. EDT

Indian Mountain Clinic – 550 Sunset Trail – Jellico

Contact: Tiffeney R. Schaad, Care Manager

423-784-5771 ext. 138

Davidson County

September 25 – First Birthday Party

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. CDT

Hadley Park

Contact: Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, Metro Nashville Department of Health

615-340-5614

Hamilton County

September 1 – New Moms Support Group

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EDT

La Paz – 1402 Bailey Avenue – Chattanooga

Contact: Stacey Johnson, La Paz Chattanooga

423-624-8414

September 2 – Happy Birthday BLUES Baby Party

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. EDT

Erlanger Hospital – POB Dining Room

Contact: Rhonda Tapp

423-535-7048

Rhonda.tapp@bcbst.com

September 13 – In the Womb Prenatal Care

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT

La Paz – 1402 Bailey Avenue – Chattanooga

Contact: Stacey Johnson, La Paz Chattanooga

423-624-8414

September 15 – New Moms Support Group

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EDT

La Paz – 1402 Bailey Avenue – Chattanooga

Contact: Stacey Johnson, La Paz Chattanooga

423-624-8414

September 27 – Car Seat Safety

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT

La Paz – 1402 Bailey Avenue – Chattanooga

Contact: Stacey Johnson, La Paz Chattanooga

423-624-8414

September 29 – New Moms Support Group

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EDT

La Paz – 1402 Bailey Avenue – Chattanooga

Contact: Stacey Johnson, La Paz Chattanooga

423-624-8414

Shelby County

September 2 – All Babies Count Press Conference and Community Crusade

Press Conference – 11 a.m. CDT

Community Crusade – 12 p.m. CDT

Gaston Community Center (Corner of Third and Walker)

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

September 11 – GE Patterson 5K Walk for Life

8 a.m. CDT

Shelby Farms

Contact: Glen Brown

Jgbrown777@bellsouth.net

September 16 – Happy Birthday BLUES Party

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. CDT

World Overcomers Outreach Ministries – 6655 Winchester Road – Memphis

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

September 18 – Douglass Baby Shower BLUES Project Health Fair

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. CDT

Greater Imani Church and Christian Center – 3034 Austin Peay Highway – Memphis

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

September 24 – All Babies Count Conference on Infant Mortality

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CDT

The Urban Child Institute – 600 Jefferson Street – Memphis

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

September 25 – Impact Baptist Church Health Fair

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. CDT

3759 North Watkins Road – Memphis

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

September 29 – Infant Mortality Force “Paint the Town” Purple One Year Anniversary Reception

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. CDT

Crescent Club

Contact: Antionette Holman, CLG Coordinator

901-385-4230

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month is sponsored by the National Healthy Start Association. For more information, including a toolkit to help you plan an event for the health observance, visit www.healthystartassoc.org.

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Featured Health Care News Tax and Budget

Infant Mortality Funding Debate Lives On

Funding for an agency designed to reduce the number of babies who die in Tennessee survived the last round of budget cuts last month, but leading Republican lawmakers say it’ll have to do a better job proving its effectiveness to avoid being aborted in the future.

The Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination oversees programs geared toward lowering infant mortality and improving health among pregnant women and children of limited economic means. The office’s budget totals $9 million, half of which is made up of federal matching funds.

The nine-employee agency, created by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2004, was designed to distribute grant monies and, in general, “better coordinate the wide range of services available to children through state governments and the private sector, with an emphasis on delivery of health care,” according to the description of the office in the Tennessee Blue Book.

The office’s $4.5 million in state funding came under scrutiny this spring when GOP lawmakers began questioning whether duplication of efforts between the GOCCC and other agencies, like the Department of Children’s Services of the Department of Health.

Senate Republicans called for the office to demonstrate whatever real and measurable improvements it has achieved on the specific problems the GOCCC seeks to address. They were unsatisfied with anything presented.

“Of course everybody’s against infant mortality,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Blountville Republican also angling to become governor. “But, if we’re putting $3 million into a program, please show me the results that are coming from that.”

The funding was ultimately left intact, but Republicans are resolving to reevaluate the office next year. In particular, they say they want to determine if the percentage of under-one-year-old babies who die annually in Tennessee is significantly lower now than when the office was created.

“This is going to be a very tough budget year next year in the same way it was this year, and we need to make sure that the the dollars that we’re spending are actually having a positive effect on this problem,” said Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican.

About 12 babies out of every 1,000 born died in Shelby County in 2008. Tennessee as a whole averaged about eight infant deaths per thousand births according to numbers released in June by the GOCCC.

That year, 185 babies died in Shelby County. Another 68 infant deaths were reported in Davidson County and 42 in Hamilton County. Statewide, 686 babies never reached their first birthday, according to the Children’s Care Coordination office.

As of 2007, Tennessee’s infant mortality ranked among the worst in the country.

Infant mortality is “not just a fad of the year,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton at the Family Re-Union 2010: Families and Healthy Beginnings day-long conference at Vanderbilt University last month.

Speakers said their biggest challenge in securing funding for infant mortality programs is convincing taxpayers and lawmakers to invest in policies that may not pay off quickly.

Advocates need to treat the issue like a political campaign, explained the Democratic mayor.

“We need to elect infant mortality,” Wharton said.

The GOCCC’s main task in regards to infant mortality is to issue federal and state grant money to local programs and evaluate each program’s progress, according to Susan Miller, the office’s Women’s Health Director. She said it also funds a series of local task forces that examine medical records of deceased babies and makes recommendations to community action teams.

Many outreach programs implemented with the state funds are have “been around the block,” tested and proven in other states, said Miller.

“These are things that have been tried elsewhere and have worked, so we’re going to try them, too,” she said.

Some GOCCC employees focus mainly on infant mortality while others zero in on other office projects like those under women’s health or at-risk children, but assist on infant mortality initiatives when those projects intersect, said Miller.

The Legislature needs to take a good look at this office, said Rep. Joe Towns, and figure out how to best focus infant mortality reduction efforts.

“Whether that program is working or not, it’s our responsibly to fix it,” said the Memphis Democrat. “If it’s not working, we need to figure out how to implement programs that will work. We’re talking about babies that need to be saved.”

The agency and the Maryland-based Anne E. Casey Foundation reported that statewide infant mortality rates dropped from 8.7 in 2006 to 8.3 a year later. Data for 2008 is not yet available.

Some lawmakers, like Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, question whether that reduction was entirely accurate, if it constitutes a trend, or whether the decrease was legitimately attributable to actions taken by the office.

Maggart chaired a committee assigned to examine the issue, but the members have yet to release a promised report, and missed an extended June 1 legislative deadline after asking for more time beyond the initially scheduled February report release date.

The six members of the bipartisan committee — including Republicans Dale Ford and Barrett Rich and Democrats Mark Stewart, JoAnne Favors and Jeanne Richardson — have yet to sign off on the report, said Maggart.

The committee’s unofficial findings, which were circulated behind the scenes, nevertheless fueled some legislators’ opposition to fully funding the GOCCC.

“The question is whether the almost $5 million spent annually was getting actually on the ground to the patients who need that kind of funding or whether it’s more administrative,” said Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who chairs the chamber’s GOP caucus.

Others in the Legislature say the agency isn’t doing enough to address the problem — or at least isn’t doing enough to prove its claims that what it is doing is successful.

Without that solid evidence, lawmakers may cut the program and brainstorm for different ways to address the problem, said legislators from both sides of the isle.

Infant mortality rates include any death of a child under 365 days old. Deaths can include everything from succumbing to extremely low birth weight to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

Underweight babies present the largest risk of infant mortality with a rate of 1.36 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s infant mortality data.

“When it comes to health, when it comes to education, a lot of it must be from yourself. You must want to be healthy. You must want to be educated. All the state can do is provide an opportunity and the success or failures is incumbent upon the individual,” said Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin.

An estimated $1.5 billion hole is expected in the state budget next year when federal stimulus dollars run out. Spending throughout the state will be tight and lawmakers from both sides of the isle generally agree programs across the board are going to be investigated for efficacy and those that can’t prove success or show results will likely be targeted for elimination.

“Whether that program is working or not, it’s our responsibly to fix it,” said Rep. Joe Towns, a Democrat from Memphis. “If it’s not working, we need to figure out how to implement programs that will work. We’re talking about babies that need to be saved.”
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Health Care Liberty and Justice News

Funding for Infant Mortality Prevention Restored; Program’s Effectivness Still Questioned

Republicans skeptical of successes claimed by supporters of the Tennessee Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination in reducing baby deaths have added the program’s full funding back into the Senate’s budget.

Both the Senate and House budget packages include $4.5 million in funding for the program. Republicans had originally indicated their preference to phase the it out.

“We’ll fund it one more year and look at how we need to reduce infant mortality,” said House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin. “Are we doing the right thing? Obviously, something’s not right.”

A soon-to-be-released state report suggests that to date the program hasn’t significantly lowered baby death rates, according to Rep. Debra Maggart, a Hendersonville Republican.

The report concludes that infant death rates are increasing, said Maggart, who chaired the Infant Mortality and Teenage Pregnancy Study Committee.

She said the state should only support programs that have measurable results and her committee’s finding indicate some initiatives combating infant mortality fail meet that criteria.

The study committee report also says the state need to do a better job making pregnant women aware of available prenatal care programs, said Maggart.

The committee was assembled last year to explore the state’s high number of baby deaths after Tennessee’s rates ranked 47 in the county. “We have a real problem and we’ve been throwing real money after it, so we need real results,” she Maggart.

The program became a topic of conflict the last several weeks while legislators hashed out a state spending plan. The governor and House Democrats included program funding in their budgets. Last week, the GOP driven Senate Finance, Ways and Means committee deleted it, calling for a phase out by next year.

Legislative leaders struck a deal on the budget this week, promising to fund the program if the House agreed to drop $16.1 million in spending on a fish hatchery in House Speaker Ken Williams’ legislative district.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he still isn’t convinced the program should be funded.

“We won’t cut anything back that’s legitimately doing something, but for the life of me, we can’t figure out what they do,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination director Bob Duncan — who left the job June 1 — stated at the Senate Finance, Ways and Means committee last month that the program has so far made “tremendous progress,” and that cutting the program would result in “an increase in babies dying.”

The infant mortality program offers grants to community programs that seek to lower infant mortality rates, discourage smoking among soon-to-be mothers and analyze deaths of babies.

“We’re not funding things that are not legitimate,” said Susan Miller, the office’s Women’s Health Director. Local programs that fail to produce results are promptly cut, she added.

The Senate OK’d their version of the budget late Thursday night. The House is expected to take up the spending document Friday or Saturday.