Pregnant Women & Newborns  

The family income limit for a pregnant woman to receive Medicaid is equal to 185% of the poverty level. There is no limit on resources. If a pregnant woman is covered by Medicaid, her newborn child is automatically eligible for Medicaid up to age 1. This benefit is available even if the pregnant woman has no other children.

The Baby Love Program

The Baby Love Program, implemented in October 1987, is designed to help reduce North Carolina's high infant mortality rate by improving access to healthcare and the service delivery system for low-income pregnant women and children. The Division of Medical Assistance and the Division of Public Health, Women’s and Children’s Health Section, jointly administer the Baby Love Program in cooperation with the Office of Research, Demonstrations, and Rural Health Development.

Through the Baby Love Program, pregnant women receive comprehensive care from the beginning of pregnancy through the postpartum period. Medicaid currently covers 40.9% of all deliveries in North Carolina. Infants born to Medicaid-eligible women continue to be eligible until their first birthday.

Specially trained nurses and social workers called Maternity Care Coordinators (MCCs) are located in all 100 North Carolina counties to assist pregnant women in obtaining medical care and an array of social support services such as transportation, housing, job training and day care. In SFY 2001, 24,487 pregnant women received MCC services.

In addition to MCC services, Maternal Outreach Workers, specially-trained home visitors, work one-on-one with at-risk families to provide social support, encourage healthy behaviors, and ensure that families are linked with available community resources. Originally funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Healthcare Trust and Medicaid, the Baby Love Maternal Outreach Worker Program has expanded from 21 pilot projects to 58 programs located in various agencies across North Carolina.

The benefit package of covered services also has been enriched through the Baby Love Program which includes childbirth and parenting classes, in-home skilled nursing care for high-risk pregnancies, nutrition counseling, psychosocial counseling and postpartum/newborn home visits

Evaluation of the Baby Love Program shows that women who receive the services of a Maternity Care Coordinator average more prenatal visits per pregnancy, have a higher participation in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, and are more likely to receive postpartum family planning services. Likewise, their children are more likely to receive well-child care and WIC services. Mothers who have a Maternity Care Coordinator have better birth outcomes.

The infant mortality rate for Medicaid recipients in North Carolina has fallen from 14.9 per 1000 live births in 1987, the year the Baby Love program started, to 8.6 per 1000 live births in 2000, the last year for which we have complete data.