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CareFirst Gives Additional $1.75 Million to B’More for Healthy Babies Program

Grant is among $3.4 million in regional commitments made during second quarter 2013

Baltimore, MD (August 13, 2013) - CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the first and largest private contributor to a Baltimore program working to reduce the city’s infant mortality rate, recently awarded B’More for Healthy Babies another $1.75 million that will help fuel the initiative through the middle of 2015.

CareFirst’s two-year commitment to B’More for Healthy Babies raises to $5.85 million the amount of money the region’s largest health insurer has invested in Baltimore’s most concerted effort to lower infant deaths due to preterm birth, low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Since the program’s launch in 2009, Baltimore’s infant mortality rate has dropped by almost one-fourth.

The B’More for Healthy Babies grant also accounts for half of the $3.4 million CareFirst recently awarded to nearly 40 health care providers, nonprofit organizations and community groups in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. So far this year, CareFirst has committed $10.4 million in grants.

The Baltimore City Health Department and Family League of Baltimore City – the co-leaders of B’More for Healthy Babies – plan to use CareFirst’s latest grant to continue funding the community outreach, provider training and family education and awareness programs that have helped Baltimore curb infant deaths. When B’More for Healthy Babies began, Baltimore had the nation’s fourth-highest infant mortality rate – 13.5 out of every 1,000 live births. By 2011, that rate had fallen to 10.5 deaths out of every 1,000 live births, according to the Baltimore City Health Department’s latest statistics.

The program’s focus on improving mother and child health and reducing health care disparities -- infant mortality affects Baltimore’s African-American residents at a rate nearly five times that of its white residents – are among the reasons CareFirst joined B’More for Healthy Babies as a founding partner. The company’s initial $3.1 million commitment helped launch the program, and another $1 million grant awarded in 2012 provided funding for two targeted programs in Baltimore’s Upton Druid Heights and Patterson Park neighborhoods.

“The goals of B’More for Healthy Babies have always been aligned with CareFirst’s mission to help provide access to health care services to those most in need of them,” said Maria Harris Tildon, CareFirst’s senior vice president of Public Policy and Community Affairs.  “Mothers and their infants are among the most deserving of this focus, given the alarming infant mortality statistics. We remain committed to helping Baltimore City improve the health of its new and expecting mothers and their infant children, and we look forward to helping continue to drive the number of infant deaths down.”

Said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot: “Infant mortality is one of the most significant public health problems facing Baltimore City. Far too many babies in Baltimore die before their first birthday and many of these deaths are preventable. We are very appreciative of the generous funding contributions made by CareFirst to help in our work to educate and prevent these tragedies from occurring.”

B’More for Healthy Babies wasn’t the only maternal-child wellness program CareFirst funded during the second quarter. The company also awarded:

  • $85,000 to Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore to help fund a low birth weight prevention program;
  • $73,600 to Pregnancy Aid Center in College Park, Md., to expand prenatal care for low-income and uninsured women; and,
  • $30,000 to Child Center and Adult Services in Gaithersburg, Md., to help fund early intervention efforts for women with perinatal depression.

The remainder of CareFirst’s second-quarter giving also included:

  • A two-year, $391,000 grant to the United Way of Central Maryland to help expand the services offered by its 2-1-1 Maryland call center, notably those related to the federal health care law for underinsured and uninsured Marylanders;
  • A two-year, $300,000 grant for Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore to expand dental services and health access to the city’s homeless community; and,
  • A two-year, $150,000 grant for Metro TeenAIDS of Washington, D.C., to extend its health education and HIV/AIDS prevention programs to students of public charter schools in the District.

About CareFirst

In its 76th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2012, CareFirst contributed $57 million to community programs designed to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CareFirst_News.