Medicaid for Low-Income Moms


September 2021

A continuation of our series highlighting the issues affecting the low-income moms gaining access to quality health care.

By Lindsey Hill, Intern

Access to affordable health care is a basic human need yet in the United States, the future of a vital safety net remains uncertain. A report from 2018 revealed that 1 in 10 Arlington adults are living without health insurance. Given how affluent the Arlington community is, it’s a concerning statistic that 11% of Arlington residents do not have insurance. Thankfully there is a safety net for the uninsured – Medicaid. Medicaid covers essential health benefits, including pregnancy, maternity, pediatric care, chronic disease management, breastfeeding support, contraception, mental health and other behavioral health services.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that currently provides health coverage to 1 in 5 Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States, with Virginia Medicaid offering low-cost and no-cost health coverage programs for citizens and legal immigrants based on financial status. 

Close to 50% of all U.S. births are covered by Medicaid, along with a large number of maternal, infant, and child health visits. Serving millions of U.S. pregnant women living in poverty, Medicaid expansion has increased access to coverage and services associated with improving the lives of mothers and infants. 

While there are multiple coverage options in the state of Virginia for children and pregnant women, more can be done for these frequent users of needed medical services. Medicaid expansion can and will continue to help low-income populations, specifically helping mothers in need to ensure healthy pregnancies and births. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has prioritized Medicaid expansion and in our next Medicaid blog, we will detail how this expansion can have a positive impact for the moms and babies we serve.

First trimester care: A problematic start to pregnancy



1 in 3 babies in Arlington does not get seen by a healthcare provider during the first trimester of pregnancy.
By Lindsey Hill, Intern




This earliest phase of pregnancy contains the highest number of essential developmental milestones for both mother and baby. During this period, the baby’s organ systems and body structure develop, even tiny miracles as small as fingernail growth occur. As you can imagine, prenatal care, especially in the first trimester, is vital to both the pregnant mother and the development of a healthy baby.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the percentage of women in Arlington seeking a healthcare professional in their first trimester remains relatively low. In 2018, only around 60% of expectant mothers in Arlington sought care in this critical period. While low-income pregnant women face the difficulties of being underinsured and finding or qualifying for healthcare programs, they also experience obstacles to care including transportation issues, lack of providers, language barriers, childcare needs, and the consequences of missed work. As much as these moms want to get the best possible care for their babies, countless roadblocks often stand in their way.

Why is needing care in the first trimester of pregnancy so important? Healthcare appointments in the earliest stage of pregnancy include physical exams and prenatal tests for mom and screenings to assess the health of the baby. These appointments help determine, find, and if necessary, prevent any foreseen problems or complications with the pregnancy. Expectant mothers also learn crucial information about their pregnancy as well as have the opportunity to ask their provider any questions they may have. Increasing the number of women who receive these early stages of care can reduce the likelihood of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, but the longer this care is prolonged, the more health risks the mother and unborn baby face.

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson foundation strives to serve the economically vulnerable mothers and infants of Arlington by giving them a fair start at life through access to quality pre and postnatal healthcare and support. We envision a community where every mother and newborn child receives the support they need to thrive– regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status. This is accomplished through innovative programs such as the tele-health project that increased monitoring access for pregnant women who do not have the option to take time off work or travel for frequent medical appointments. 

Care in the first trimester is critical for expectant mothers. The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation is driven to provide women with more access to first trimester care as well as education about their pregnancies. Affordable healthcare is not always easily accessible, but coming to better understand the various barriers mothers face, we hope to better serve the community.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Funds Pilot OB Connect Program

THE JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION FUNDS PILOT OB CONNECT PROGRAM

CONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

Arlington, VA: June 2021

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) provided $38,000 to the Virginia Hospital Center for the pilot of the Hospital’s OB Connect program, which provides patients with the flexibility to receive prenatal care from home.

“Just as people have gotten used to tracking their health with watches and other wearable devices, our patients have easy-to-use home monitoring equipment to keep their OB/GYN provider apprised of their vital signs,” said Amanda Rohn, MD, FACOG, VHC Physician Group-OB/GYN. “VHC OB Connect represents a new age of medicine, where we are using technology to make care more convenient for patients and, at the same time, giving them greater access to their healthcare providers.”

Rather than visiting the office for every appointment, OB Connect patients schedule some remote appointments, called Continuing Care Visits, via secure video. The program provides participants with a fetal Doppler to check their baby’s heart rate and an electronic blood pressure cuff for personal blood pressure monitoring. Patients then report these readings to their nurses two days before each appointment through the MyVHC patient portal, allowing nurses to review results and consult doctors and midwives as needed. 

“VHC’s OB Connect program is an essential step in the movement for accessible prenatal care for economically vulnerable moms,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. “With virtual appointments, patients will not have to take time off work, pay for childcare or parking, or rush to appointments. We hope that by funding this program, we can reduce the financial burdens and added stress that so often come with seeking care during pregnancy.”

The JBLF grant provides funding for OB Connect Nurses, at-home care kits for patients, the OB Connect educational app, and the printing and translation of program materials to Spanish for increased accessibility. Additionally, the donation allows patients of VHC’s Outpatient Clinic to access this brand-new program free of charge.

“We cannot thank the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation enough for their generous donation to Virginia Hospital Center,” said Michelle Altman, MBA, MSN, RN, Patient Care Director. “The OB Connect program is transformational for our Outpatient Clinic patients, providing them with reliable access to convenient, top-quality prenatal care.”

The OB Connect program is closely connected to the mission of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. Founded in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the organization works to increase access to quality maternal and infant care for economically vulnerable families.

The VHC Physician Group-OB/GYN is the first and only OB/GYN practice in the area to offer a service of this type to their patients. The program is now in full force at VHC, and recently, the first mother to enroll in the program completed a successful delivery.

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Established in honor of Jennifer Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and pediatric health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.

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Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Grant Sees Results (Get Up DC)

 

August 13, 2020 by Get Up DC

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — Jennifer Bush-Lawson was a woman who made it her mission to help mothers with complicated pregnancies after battling issues during her pregnancies. Sadly, the wife and mother of three’s work was cut short in 2014 — but her mission lives on. The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation funded grant for a telemedicine program at Virginia Hospital Center has seen amazing results.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Funded Telemedicine Program Shows Promising Results

THE JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION FUNDED VHC OUTPATIENT CLINIC TELEMEDICINE PROGRAM REDUCES NEED FOR C-SECTIONS, NICU ADMISSIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

Arlington, VA: July 20, 2020 – A pilot program exploring the impact of telemedicine on outcomes for high-risk maternity patients and patients with chronic medical conditions run by Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, with support from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) has made a remarkable impact on the lives of low-income, high-risk individuals who may not have otherwise had access to consistent, quality healthcare.

As of December 31, 2019, the telemedicine program has resulted in:

  • A 25.7 percent reduction in c-section rates for high-risk pregnancies;
  • A 61.5 percent reduction in NICU admissions for newborns;
  • A 65.2 percent reduction in emergency room visits;
  • A 56.1 percent reduction in hospital admissions; and
  • A 69.2 percent increase in the number of hypertension patients who achieved their goal blood pressure.

“Telemedicine involves patients as active participants in managing their care, ensuring a higher percentage of healthy outcomes,” said Michelle Altman, MBA, RN, Patient Care Director at the VHC Outpatient Clinic. “Telemedicine patients are more likely to keep scheduled appointments, comply with plans of care and take medications as prescribed which makes them less likely to require a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay.”

Launched in 2016 with a $275,000 pledge from CareFirst, the pilot program focused primarily on patients with diabetes, blood pressure issues and other concerns that require more consistent monitoring. Throughout the program, more than $120,000 in donations from the JBLF ensured coverage of staff time and allowed the Clinic to establish a more permanent infrastructure for the program which readied the clinic to expand its telemedicine appointments by more than 300 percent following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide care to patients without the risk of exposure.

“Providing economically vulnerable women better access to the maternal care they need is at the very core of JBLF’s mission,” said JBLF Executive Director Kelly Garrity. “Programs like this telemedicine pilot are transformative for women with high-risk pregnancies who do not have the option to take time off work or travel for frequent medical appointments.”

The program will continue to operate out of the Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Clinic, which serves the community by providing healthcare services to patients with or without insurance. The telemedicine program is fully integrated into VHC’s electronic records management system to make it readily accessible for physicians and patients and a Spanish translator is available.

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Established in honor of Jennifer Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and pediatric health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.

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Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Delivers 2500+ Meals (Good Morning Washington)

 

July 16, 2020 by Good Morning Washington

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Jennifer Bush-Lawson was a woman who made it her mission to help mothers with complicated pregnancies after battling issues during her pregnancies. Sadly, the wife and mother of three’s work was cut short in 2014 — but her mission lives on. The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation has teamed up with Two Plates to provide meals to financially vulnerable families with newborns.

Full article: https://wjla.com/news/local/2-dmv-organizations-team-up-to-cook-deliver-over-2500-meals-to-expecting-and-new-moms 

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Welcomes New Executive Director, Vice Chair

JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION WELCOMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VICE CHAIR  
Kelly Garrity becomes executive director, Jennifer Myers moves into vice chair role on the board of directors 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

ARLINGTON, VA, FEB. 21, 2020 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) is pleased to welcome Kelly Garrity as our new full-time executive director and Jennifer Myers as Vice Chair of the board of directors.

Garrity comes to JB-LF with more than 15 years of professional experience, having spent the last 10 in nonprofits and health care associations. Most recently, as Senior Director, Member Services and Development at the National Health Council, she led growth in membership and sponsorship while creating innovative strategies to drive corporate and foundation fundraising, instituted new governance processes, and strengthened alliances with senior staff at varied organizations including major pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology companies, professional and membership associations, patient advocacy organizations, and the federal government.

She believes strongly in giving her time to charities close to her heart. Most recently, Garrity has been an active advocate of RESOLVE the Infertility Association and is also a founding member, fundraising chair and legislative co-chair of the Virginia chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing pregnancy loss and neonatal death and improving care for families who experience such tragedies.

Jennifer Myers, who first joined the foundation in 2016 as an event committee member for its annual 5K & Family Fun Day and then became the full-time executive director in 2017, will join the JB-LF board of directors as Vice Chair. During her time as executive director, Myers launched educational convenings on topics including maternal mortality and equity in prenatal care and created a Prize for Prenatal Innovation that was awarded to Children’s National for a citywide study on maternal mental health for low-income black women.

“I cannot thank these two people enough for all they’ve done — and all they’ll do — for JB-LF,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. “Starting from the seeds of our wonderful, community-based 5K & Family Fun Day, our foundation has grown in both size and impact. We have even more planned, from new research to partnerships and events, all meant to improve access to maternal and infant care for moms and babies in need.”

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
Established in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and infant care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive. More information is available at www.jb-lf.org and on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation 5K and Family Fun Day returns to Arlington (Good Morning Washington)

November 12, 2019 by Good Morning Washington

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Jennifer Bush-Lawson was a woman who made it her mission to help mothers with complicated pregnancies after battling issues during her pregnancies. Sadly, the wife and mother of three’s work was cut short in 2014 — but her mission lives on. Saturday is the 5th annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation 5K and Family Fun Day in Arlington. Neal Lawson and Jennifer Myers shared details on the event.

Full video: https://wjla.com/features/good-morning-washington/jennifer-bush-lawson-foundation-5k-and-family-fun-day-returns-to-arlington

17 Things To Do In November (Arlington Magazine)

October 28, 2019 by Eliza Berkon

Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day

When: Nov. 23, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Where: Knights of Columbus, 5115 Little Falls Road, Arlington

This fifth annual fundraiser includes a certified 5K course (open to adults and youth) and kids’ fun run, plus moon bounces, laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, balloon animals, face painting and more. Proceeds support pediatric and maternal health care services for economically vulnerable women and their infants. $22.50-$45.

Full story: https://www.arlingtonmagazine.com/17-things-to-do-in-november/3/