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Health & Science

Ohio's Medicaid Department Aims to Reduce Infant Mortality in State Urban Areas

Ohio Department of Medicaid

The state is working with urban community leaders to pinpoint ways to cut down on children dying before they turn 1.

Ohio’s Medicaid department doled out more than $22 million to groups around the state to help cut down on the number of babies who die before their first birthdays.

The group’s director, John McCarthy, says the state worked with community leaders in Ohio’s eight urban areas to figure out what can help each region in its own way.

“We did not want to come in and say, 'This is how you should do it,’ because those local communities already had great ideas. It was just getting some of the seed funding to get some of these projects up and off the ground and working,” McCarthy said.

Those projects include efforts to educate both women and men on how to have healthy pregnancies and programs that connect families with health-related resources.

Ohio’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average overall and has one of the worst rates in the country for black infants.

McCarthy says the Ohio Department of Medicaid funds nearly half of all births in the state.

“We are a big driver of resources in this area. ... We’ve been working over the last few years on how to move the Medicaid program into a program where we’re providing value to the state and improving health outcomes,” McCarthy said.

Every urban region got at least $1.5 million. The Toledo area got the most -- $3.2 million. McCarthy says the amount was based on the needs and existing resources in each area and is not an indicator of the severity of the situation per region.