Indianapolis-based Managed Health Services says it is expanding its doula program to address health disparities and improve birth outcomes, especially among the Medicaid population. A doula is a trained professional in childbirth who provides emotional support during labor, often for women without a birthing partner.
MHS, which administers Hoosier Healthwise, Hoosier Care Connect Medicaid, and the Healthy Indiana Plan, says the doula programs will launch next month.
MHS says it will partner with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition on its Community Doula Services Program, a free pregnancy assistance program created to target minority women between the ages of 15 to 35 who are either on, or eligible for, Medicaid. The program serves Lake, Elkhart, St. Joseph, LaPorte, and Marshall Counties.
“We see firsthand the challenges minority mothers have, especially those in the Medicaid population. MHS knows reaching these mothers at critical points in their pregnancies is crucial to maternal and newborn health and we applaud their efforts,” said Carl Ellison, IMHC president and chief executive officer.
MHS will also offer its Doula on Demand program, which offers the option of virtual visits or no-cost transportation.
The health insurance company says it is also working to recruit and increase Indiana’s doula workforce.
“We are pleased to announce new doula programs focused on the care of our pregnant members, especially Black mothers,” said Kevin O’Toole, MHS president and CEO. “In Indiana, Black mothers and babies are more likely to be impacted by low birth weight, preterm birth and high infant mortality. MHS is committed to making a change and addressing these critical health disparities.”
According to the Indiana Department of Health Maternal and Child Health Division, Non-Hispanic Black infants are 1.8 times more likely to die than Non-Hispanic white infants in Indiana, and are more likely to be born low birth weight or preterm.