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Special Edition - EPRExpand Special Edition - EPR

 Capitalizing on Health Reform to Improve Preconception Health

By Atyya Chaudhry, MPP
Policy Analyst, Health Reform Implementation, AMCHP

AMCHP developed an issue brief focusing on preconception health and health care. Despite improvements in the past few decades, infant and maternal deaths remain high in the United States. Preconception health and health care provide an opportunity to care for the health of a woman before she becomes pregnant in efforts to improve birth outcomes for mother and child. With so many unplanned pregnancies in the United States, preconception health and health care is important for all people of reproductive age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines preconception health as "the health of women and men during their reproductive years, which are the years they can have a child. It focuses on taking steps now to protect the health of a baby they might have sometime in the future. Preconception health care is the medical care a woman or man receives from the doctor or other health professionals that focuses on the parts of health that have been shown to increase the chance of having a healthy baby." Changes in public policy and health care financing, particularly health coverage and benefits, are needed in order to improve access to preconception health care. Many states are investing resources in preconception health to improve maternal health and ensure healthy birth outcomes. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides states and communities with new opportunities and resources to develop and expand preconception health efforts.

This issue brief, Opportunities and Strategies for Improving Preconception Health through Health Reform, explores how states can capitalize on the opportunities presented by health reform to improve birth outcomes, particularly through preconception health. The issue brief provides a brief overview of provisions in the ACA that can influence access to care for women and men in the preconception period. This issue brief highlights state Title V MCH programs, particularly programs in the three states (Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon) that participated in an action learning collaborative and two additional states (Delaware and Colorado) and are working toward improving preconception health. Several state strategies are identified including, building and strengthening state and community partnerships, improving access to and quality of primary care for women, improving financing of preconception care services, and using data to inform program development and policy change.

We hope this issue brief is a useful resource for your state MCH program. For questions or comments, please contact Atyya Chaudhry at achaudhry@amchp.org or 202-775-1474.