I write this letter as a constituent and as a nurse who serves to promote evidence-based health care policy that supports disease prevention and health equity. WV House Bill 2956 — Expanding comprehensive coverage for pregnant women through Medicaid is a policy worthy of public support.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), infant mortality is an important indicator of the overall health of a society. The national infant mortality rate is 5.87 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. West Virginia’s average is much higher with a rate of 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Sadly, most of these deaths are preventable with access to adequate prenatal, delivery and postpartum care.
Some of the most common barriers to a healthy pregnancy include access to health care, income, educational level, lack of food, housing, transportation, smoking, drug or alcohol use, mental health as well as improper birth spacing. The leading causes of infant mortality are birth defects, low birth weight, pre-term birth, maternal pregnancy complications and SIDS.
Prevention, education and access to care are critical to reducing infant mortality. Please call your WV legislators and ask them to support HB 2956.
Jodie L. Williams