Pregnant women, mothers, newborns, and infants comprise an important sector of Medicaid beneficiaries. To address the needs of these populations, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) has taken a lead role in coordinating the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative (SCBOI) over the last decade. The SCBOI brings together the insights and resources of over 100 multi-sector stakeholders to strategize and implement interventions that improve health outcomes for women and babies.
Since SCBOI’s inception, the Institute for Families in Society (IFS) has led the SCBOI Data Working Group, whose analyses of Medicaid-related quantitative data have been used to shape priorities and next steps in addressing the needs of communities of opportunity. But who are the people represented by the numbers, percentages, and trends documented over time? Who are the Medicaid clients/consumers/beneficiaries? What are their experiences and insights? And how can those experiences and insights be used to inform Medicaid policies and practices moving forward? The VOICES/VOCES initiative aimed to answer those questions and bring women’s voices directly into the discussion of Medicaid priorities, strategies, and decision making.
By conducting in-depth interviews with women (consumers), the VOICES/VOCES team documented the experiences, perspectives, and proposals for action expressed by women throughout South Carolina who depend on Medicaid/emergency Medicaid for their pregnancy, birthing, and postnatal care. The team also interviewed key stakeholders throughout the state. Their combined stories and insights bring deeper understanding of the data and trends mapped by IFS over time, especially in relation to the racial and ethnic-based disparities and inequities in maternal health and birth outcomes that exist and persist. Importantly, the interviews also yield concrete ideas and recommendations for actions that can be taken to address disparities and inequities, making South Carolina a healthier place for all.
Read more about the VOICES/VOCES initiative and how COVID-19 impacted the project. Get the VOICES/VOCES Technical Report
South Carolina is currently one of many states putting an increased focus on issues that negatively affect maternal and child health. In South Carolina, these efforts are being spearheaded through the SC Birth Outcomes Initiative (BOI). The BOI is a collaboration of the SC Department of Health and Human Services, SC Hospital Association, March of Dimes, Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC and more than 100 stakeholders who together share the goal of improving health outcomes for newborns not only in the Medicaid program but throughout the state’s population.