“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and services for thousands of moms, to help them have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the March of Dimes. “The March of Dimes applauds Empire BlueCross Blue Shield Foundation for its dedication to better health for American families and their continued support of our mission to help give every baby a fighting chance.”
The Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation grant will support the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait (HBWW) community program in Queens, New York. This program integrates public and clinical health, improves systems of care, and reduces preterm birth through a range of interventions, which include access to progesterone shots for women with a previous preterm birth and CenteringPregnancy, among others. As one advisory board member Marjory Louis-Villejoint, MSN, NP, CLC Administrative Public Health Nurse with Nurse-Family Partnership put it, “HBWW provided a link to the hospitals and providers. There’s been such a big change. HBWW has helped us as a community. Our colleagues are seen as partners rather than competition.”
The $85,870 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in New York City. Through its Healthy Generations program, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues, among them, reducing the incidence of low birthweight babies and engaging mothers in prenatal care.
The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal and infant health. Most recently, in 2015-2016, a $1 million grant from Anthem Foundation, Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation’s parent foundation, helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to 6,600 women, including 3,600 who participated in HBWW.
“Although a lot of progress has been made to prevent premature birth and improve mom and baby health, it’s critical that we continue to ensure programs are available and expanded to reach growing and diverse communities,” said Larry Schreiber, president and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “We’re proud as a healthplan to partner with the March of Dimes on Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait to give every baby the healthiest start in life possible.”
The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, seeks to raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth to 8.1 percent of births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030.
Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the U.S., and babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the toll on families, economic costs for prematurity are estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine.
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes Empire’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Empire serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Serving New Yorkers for 80 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting more than four million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at @Empirebcbs_News.