Illinois' integrated strategy for improving maternal and child health focuses on four outcomes:
- Reducing the very low birth weight rate
- Reducing the low birth weight rate
- Reducing Medicaid expenditures during the first year of life
- Reducing the infant mortality rate
Very low birth weight infants (newborns who weigh less than 3 pounds 2 ounces) require intensive medical care. While these infants represent less than two percent of all live births, they also account for two-thirds of the infants who die in the first year of life. Interventions that reduce the very low birth weight rate will also reduce Medicaid expenditures during the first year of life and reduce the infant mortality rate.
The integrated delivery of the WIC and FCM programs is having a significant impact on the state's infant mortality rate and health care expenditures. Ten consecutive annual program evaluations have shown that the health status of infants born to Medicaid-eligible women who participated in both WIC and FCM has been substantially better than that of infants born to Medicaid eligible women who did not participate in either program. In particular, the rate of premature birth is more than 25 percent lower among participants in both programs. The rate of low birth weight is more than 50 percent lower; the rate of infant mortality is more than 55 percent lower; and on average health care expenditures during the first year of life are more than 30 percent lower.
Very Low Birth Weight
The very low birth weight rate among women who participated in both WIC and FCM was 1.4 percent in 2008, almost one-half of the rate (2.9 %) observed among Medicaid eligible women who did not participate in either program during pregnancy.
Medicaid Expenditures in the First Year of Live
The Department is able to match information from its maternal and child health management information system, Cornerstone, with vital records maintained by the IDPH and the Medicaid Management Information System maintained by the IDHFS. This allows the Department to compare the perinatal health status of women and children who participate in several of its programs to Medicaid-eligible non-participants and the general population of pregnant women and newborns.
WIC and FCM, through the reduction in very low birth weight, contribute to a significant reduction in Medicaid expenditures during the first year of life.
This report began with Dr. Helen Wallace's observation that the infant mortality rate is the most sensitive index of the status of economic and social development of any country. The state has made steady progress in reducing its infant mortality rate, in part, due to the improvement of birth outcomes as a result of at-risk women participating in the WIC and FCM programs. As noted earlier, and as evidenced in the next chart, the infant mortality rate is more than 55 percent lower when infants born to Medicaid-eligible women participated in WIC and FCM during pregnancy when compared to infants whose mothers did not participate in this integrated MCH program.