New Jersey: Reducing Racial Disparities In Prenatal Care

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New Jersey lawmakers will hold a legislative meeting on Thursday to discuss ways to address racial inequalities in access to prenatal health care, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Assembly member Sheila Oliver (D), chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, planned the hearing (Delli Santi, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/12).

A 2008 state Department of Health and Senior Services found that teenagers, minorities and single women in New Jersey all have a higher risk of poor birth outcomes and also are less likely than others to receive early prenatal care (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 9/4/08). Oliver said, "Worries such as lack of transportation and reduction of services at our clinics shouldn't be preventing women, most notably teenagers and African-American women, from getting the care that they need to ensure their babies have the best chance at being born healthy and strong."

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State Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard is scheduled to discuss a statewide campaign that seeks to raise awareness of prenatal care at the hearing. In addition, Oliver is sponsoring legislation that calls for obstetric services to be continued in the event that a clinic closes or reduces its hours. The bill also would authorize the commissioner to allocate money from the Health Care Stabilization Fund to support obstetrics at a financially distressed health care center.

Oliver said, "New Jersey is too good to rank near the bottom when it comes to the state of health care for expectant mothers and their children" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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