Every woman should have access to proper prenatal care.
On August 13th, Governor Murphy signed Assemblywoman Joann Downey’s sponsored bill to ensure that all New Jersey mothers will have that access. The bill, which expands state Medicaid coverage for group prenatal care, will allow expecting mothers to obtain health assessments, social and clinical support, and educational activities.
The new law (S-2432) allows women up to 10 prenatal care visits during their pregnancy, provided the group visit is a minimum of 1½ hours long and has 2 to 20 women participating. Group prenatal care refers to a series of prenatal care visits provided in a group setting.
“For a decade, preterm births were in decline, but in the last three years, we’ve seen that rate rising again,” said Downey (D-Freehold). “This law keeps the health of mothers and their children a top priority. If we want New Jersey mothers to safely give birth to healthy babies, we need to create the opportunities that make that possible. Group prenatal care can help us put the patient’s needs first, and expanding Medicaid coverage can allow more women than ever before to use this essential service.”
The new law should help reduce racially disparate outcomes, particularly for African American women, who are the highest at-risk group for preterm births.
“When women of color are able to access group care, they can lower their risk of preterm births dramatically,” Downey added. “No matter who you are, this preventative care can have a huge positive impact on your ability to have a child safely and successfully. Preterm births can be a huge strain on families and our healthcare system - but when we give families a path to prevention, we reduce stress and financial strain, and let our health professionals shift resources to other critical areas.”