DETROIT, Oct. 12, 2023 —Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation are partnering to provide a second cycle of funding through the Advancing Maternal Health Equity initiative and are now accepting applications from six Michigan Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (RPQC) and its partners. Grants will support sustainable initiatives to advance health equity and reduce a birthing person’s risk of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity (health conditions complicating pregnancy or childbirth that negatively impact their well-being or functioning). Selected grantees will be awarded up to $50,000 for 12 months.
A September 2022 Health of America report released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association states pregnancy and childbirth complications in the U.S. have increased among all birthing people by about 9% between 2018 to 2020. Racial disparities within these complications continue to be present as well for Black, Latina and Asian birthing people compared to white birthing people. In 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan committed to help reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50% by 2026, in alignment with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide.
Invited RPQC members in regions 1 (Upper Peninsula), 3 (Northern Lower Mich.), 4 (West Mich.), 6 (Thumb), 8 (Southwest Mich.) and 10 (Southeast Mich.) may apply for funding to support projects that advance maternal health equity by addressing disparity-related factors in maternal health. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data indicates higher than the state average for feto-infant mortality and maternal mortality in the six regions selected for this grant opportunity. The data also indicates that the Perinatal Period of Risk for these regions exists during the maternal health/prematurity period and is related to chronic disease, health behaviors, early prenatal care, and maternal stress among pregnant people.
Grant funding is reserved for initiatives that reduce risks and improve health before pregnancy, during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum. Projects should address local challenges to maternal health equity that impact maternal mortality, maternal morbidity, or severe maternal morbidity and their upstream causes. Selected Michigan Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (RPQC) and its partners are invited to apply.
“As inequitable maternal health outcomes remain a top concern and priority across Michigan communities, we’re honored to administer a second cycle of the Advancing Maternal Health Equity initiative this year,” said Ken Hayward, vice president of Community Relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “The effort to advance maternal health equity requires a multifaceted approach that engages a variety of partners to address challenges in individual communities. Through this initiative, we’re committed to providing resources to improve the health of birthing people in Michigan.”
“Since 2019, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation have partnered to award over $500,000 to address maternal and infant outcomes through the Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives,” said Audrey Harvey, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation executive director and chief executive officer. “Our ongoing partnerships with Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives help push the envelope on addressing maternal health disparities by ensuring that the identified needs of birthing people are meaningfully met to improve maternal health outcomes.”
The funding collaborative is particularly interested in sustainable proposals that support women of color, support individuals in underserved and marginalized communities, address implicit bias, and provide culturally relevant interventions. Proposals tailored to the local needs and culture within the community and include collaboration among multiple stakeholders to address maternal health disparities are welcomed.
Eligible applicants must complete and submit an online application by Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Awards will be announced in December 2023 and the program period begins January 2024.
For more information on the partnership’s grant programs, visit Blue Cross’ grants and contributions webpage and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation’s 2022 Annual Report.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.