medical-563427_960_720 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the region’s largest health insurer, plans to award $2 million over the next two years to programs seeking to improve birth outcomes, maternal health and lower infant mortality rates (IMRs) in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.

Although infant mortality rates in CareFirst’s service region have dropped to historic lows, the average number of infant deaths continues to outpace the national average of 5.9 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response, CareFirst has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from community health centers, nonprofit organizations and public health programs focused on initiatives that address factors to improve birth outcomes and reduce infant mortality, including:

  • safe sleep habits;
  • smoking and substance use cessation;
  • prenatal care;
  • timing between pregnancies;
  • breastfeeding;
  • socioeconomic and racial equality;
  • treatment of maternal mental health; and,
  • maternal obesity prevention.

Proposals must be completed using the online application and submitted no later than Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Ideal proposals will improve infant health among minority and underserved populations, be easily expanded or replicated in other communities, and address at least one of the identified contributing factors to infant health. Collaborative programs are encouraged.

“Maternal and child health outcomes in our region continue to lag behind the national average, and disparities among disadvantaged communities persist,” said CareFirst President & CEO Brian D. Pieninck. “We hope to catalyze lasting change by increasing access and eradicating the obstacles these mothers and their children face so that all families are given an equal opportunity to thrive and reach their optimal level of health and well-being.”

Since 2007, CareFirst has contributed more than $18 million to maternal and child health, which is one of the insurer’s areas of focus for its funding. CareFirst is not accepting applications for this RFP for programs in Baltimore City because of its ongoing multi-million dollar commitment to B’More for Healthy Babies. CareFirst’s 10-year commitment to the program has contributed to the program’s successful efforts to help lower the city’s infant mortality rate since its launch in 2009.

More information about the RPF, including eligibility guidelines and how to apply, can be found at CareFirst’s community website.

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