BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Health has launched the Maternal Opioid Misuse model this month, using funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The MOM initiative focuses on improving care for pregnant and postpartum Medicaid participants who are diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

“The Maryland Department of Health remains committed to ending the opioid crisis, and the MOM model is one very specific but critical approach,” MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall said. “By targeting these resources and continuing to align efforts — from the federal level to our local partners — we will increase support for women and families in seeking treatment and finding success in recovery.”

According to CMS, substance use is a leading cause of maternal death. Because pregnant and postpartum women are more likely to be receiving health care, MOM focuses on providing additional resources to women with OUD during and after their pregnancies. The initiative strives to deliver better care from maternity and primary care to behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment.

Maryland is one of 10 states to secure MOM funding. The state will receive $3.6 million over the next five years to implement the initiative, with the opportunity to receive an additional $1.5 million based on performance targets. Maryland’s Medicaid program will work with CMS to develop long-term coverage and payment strategies, while working with its HealthChoice managed care organizations to improve care and service delivery to pregnant and postpartum women with OUD.

“As we continue to combat the opioid crisis, this new funding presents a unique opportunity to improve health outcomes for one of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations,” MDH Chief Operating Officer Dennis Schrader said. “This initiative will result in bringing better health care to mothers and children at an especially critical time.”

The new funding is a timely and strategic complement to the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action grant, which MDH’s Public Health Administration received in September 2019. The three-year cooperative agreement enables the state to leverage more timely overdose data to support increased intervention and prevention capacities.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant and postpartum women who misuse substances are at high risk for poor maternal outcomes, including preterm labor and delivery complications. The problems are frequently made worse by malnourishment, interpersonal violence and other health-related social needs.

“The social aspects of health care play an enormous role in public health,” Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips said. “Medicaid’s MOM initiative aligns with Public Health’s community-based opioid intervention and prevention efforts. Together, we have greater potential to help more women with opioid use disorder and their infants get better care across the state.”

For more information about the MOM model, visit https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/maternal-opioid-misuse-model/.

For more information about the Overdose Data to Action, visit https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/od2a/index.html.

For more information about Maryland’s response to the opioid crisis, visit https://beforeitstoolate.maryland.gov.

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