Horizon and RWJBarnabas Collaboration Aims to Improve Maternal Health

In a first-of-its kind partnership that brings together New Jersey’s State Medicaid agency, its largest health insurer and biggest health care system, the Garden State has been selected to become a laboratory for innovating solutions to reverse maternal and infant mortality rates that currently are among the highest in the nation.

The collaboration is one of seven awarded nationally and announced by Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment, and Systems Transformation program a University of Chicago organization founded and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted in partnership with the Institute for Medicaid Innovation and the Center for Health Care Strategies.  The application for the award was submitted by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS ) and RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH).

The AHE Learning Collaborative will convene the seven teams over the course of two years to design integrated health care delivery and payment reforms to reduce health disparities and then implement these efforts at health care delivery organizations and surrounding communities. The New Jersey collaborative team will craft and implement integrated payment and health care delivery reforms to combat racial disparities among maternal-child health for Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare members.

“Horizon is honored and eager to join with our partners in collaboration to identify and address the risk factors that endanger the health of new mothers and the lives of their newborns,” said Mark Barnard, Executive Vice President of Government Programs and Operations for Horizon BCBSNJ. ”With the collective resources, reach and commitment we bring to this effort, our team is uniquely qualified to develop innovative solutions that make New Jersey a model state for improving maternal health and making sure all children get the healthy start in life they deserve,” he said.

Based on 2018 Health of Women and Children Report, New Jersey ranks 45th among all 50 states in maternal mortality with 38.1 deaths per 100,000 births. The mortality rate among African-American women is 102 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is the highest among all States that reported their maternal mortality rate.

“Across the RWJBarnabas Health system, we are committed to elevating the whole health and well-being of our communities. We are extremely pleased to have been selected to be part of the Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative,” said Jennifer G. Velez, Executive Vice President, Community and Behavioral Health, RWJBarnabas Health. “Our anticipated work with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Jersey City Medical Center will focus on closing racial health disparities in maternal-child health among New Jersey’s Medicaid population,” she said.

“This is the first attempt that we know of to bring together these three stakeholder groups to identify common goals for advancing health equity and then work together to implement them. We are excited about the potential of this project,” noted Andrea Ducas, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The teams will also address social determinants of health as part of their efforts and generate best practice and policy recommendations for national dissemination.

In addition to New Jersey, the states of Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington have been competitively selected to work together to reduce health disparities as members of the Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative. The two-year collaborative launches on October 2, 2019.

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