The program’s goal is simple: reduce maternal mortality rates for Black women
Linthicum, Md., April 20, 2023 — Aetna Better Health® of Maryland, a CVS Health® (NYSE: CVS) company, announced a pilot program in collaboration with digital health solution provider Mae focused on reducing health disparities for Black expectant mothers. Doula services from a state-certified doula are a covered benefit available to all Maryland Medicaid members during pregnancy and for one year post-partum. As part of the Aetna Better Health Medicaid network in Maryland, Mae specializes in culturally competent maternal health care for Black women.
The pilot program aligns with initiatives to reduce the disparities reported in Black women, while improving health, mental health and birth outcomes. Mae offers participating members a community-led model of doula support along with an engagement platform that tracks their physical, social, and emotional needs during pregnancy and postpartum to inform the guidance and in-person support they receive.
“Black women are three times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death, twice as likely to experience complications and 49% more likely to give birth prematurely compared to white women,” said Gayle Jordan-Randolph, MD, MEd, DFAPA, Chief Medical Officer, Aetna Better Health of Maryland. “Covering more than 40% of all births in the U.S., Medicaid has a long-term record of accomplishment in providing expectant mothers with high-quality health care and improving the safety of births. Our collaboration with Mae is another step in reducing mother and infant mortality among pregnant women — especially Black women.”
Launched in 2021 by Chief Executive Officer Maya Hardigan, Mae’s model empowers Black expectant mothers through whole-person care, using inclusive tools throughout their pregnancy and postpartum journeys to reduce longstanding inequities in Black maternal health care.
“Existing disparities impact not only the birthing person, but their children, families and broader communities,” said Hardigan. “Our pilot with Aetna Better Health of Maryland allows us to scale our offering statewide to reduce unnecessary maternal morbidity and death across the state, while fundamentally redefining the experience of those we serve.”
The U.S. maternal mortality rate has significantly risen in recent years, particularly driven by an increase in prevalence among Black women. These outcomes impose serious harm on Black women, create unquantifiable harm and trauma for families, and add billions in health care costs each year. Research indicates more than 80% of maternal deaths are preventable.
Doula services, like those included in Mae’s provider solution, are a proven community-based, low-cost approach to improving maternal health, with evidence showing doula support leads to lower rates of maternal health complications and cesarean deliveries, all while reducing costs borne by the health care system. By providing access to doulas and resources to support well-being in pregnancy, Mae will help alleviate systemic inequities in maternal care.
Mae and Aetna Better Health will continue to explore opportunities to support Black maternal health in their ongoing mission to reduce health disparities.
About CVS Health
CVS Health® is the leading health solutions company, delivering care like no one else can. We reach more people and improve the health of communities across America through our local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 dedicated colleagues — including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners. Wherever and whenever people need us, we help them with their health — whether that’s managing chronic diseases, staying compliant with their medications or accessing affordable health and wellness services in the most convenient ways. We help people navigate the health care system — and their personal health care — by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And we do it all with heart, each and every day. Follow @CVSHealth on social media.
About Aetna Medicaid
Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC (Aetna Medicaid), a CVS Health company, has over 30 years of experience managing the care of the most medically vulnerable, using innovative approaches and a local presence in each market to achieve both successful health care results and effective cost outcomes. Aetna Medicaid has particular expertise serving high-need Medicaid members, including those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Currently, Aetna Medicaid owns and/or administers Medicaid managed health care plans under the names of Aetna Better Health and other affiliate names. Together, these plans serve approximately 2.8 million people in 16 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. For more information, visit www.aetnabetterhealth.com.