Bill would fund perinatal collaborative

A collaborative focused on perinatal issues would receive state dollars under a bill heard March 16 by the Appropriations Committee.

LB233, introduced by Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, would appropriate $100,000 in general funds in fiscal year 2015-16 and FY2016-17 to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The funds would be used to contract with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) for the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative.

Howard said a Nebraska perinatal collaborative is being developed with the goal of reducing infant mortality, preterm births, substance abuse during pregnancy and maternal mortality.

A normal birth costs an average of $4,000 per child, she said, while a preterm birth costs an average of $49,000 per child. The state and hospitals currently absorb much of that cost, she said.

“This legislation is an investment in the future of our citizens,” Howard said. “If mothers and babies are given the best possible care in starting their journey, they will certainly live healthier lives.”

Ann Anderson Berry, medical director of the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, testified in favor of the bill. She said that the most successful collaboratives in other states have been public/private partnerships.

Anderson Berry said LB233 would fund administrative costs to house the collaborative at UNMC, which would provide the necessary infrastructure—including databases, statisticians and providers—to reduce infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.

“The state is a necessary public health partner,” she said.

John Sparks, an Omaha neonatologist, also testified in support. Sparks said he is able to care for preterm infants as a neonatologist, but as part of a collaborative he would be able to work with other professionals to prevent preterm births from happening.

“This model has been highly successful in other states and I believe it will be successful here,” he said.

No opposition testimony was offered and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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