COLUMBUS, Ohio – With an eye on decreasing the state’s high infant mortality rate, the Ohio House passed a bipartisan bill Thursday that would expand smoking cessation, dental visits and health and lead education.
House Bill 11, sponsored by Northeast Ohio Reps. Gayle Manning, a Republican from North Ridgeville, and Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland Democrat, passed unanimously. It now heads to the Senate.
Ohio’s infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is among highest in the U.S. In 2015, Ohio was 45th in infant mortality, meaning 44 other states had a better live birth rate.
Howse said the infant mortality rate of black babies is three times higher than white babies.
HB 11, if passed, would have four components:
- .Require Ohio Medicaid, Medicaid managed care organizations and state employee insurance plans to cover federally recognized tobacco cessation medications and services. The organizations also would have to market these services to recipients
- Provide $6 million to the Ohio Department of Health to give grants to health care facilities, medical practices and others to begin programs that encourage early prenatal care. Howse said they’d be small group settings with women with similar due dates where breastfeeding, nutrition, parenting and pregnancy concerns would be discussed. Priority would to be given to areas of the state with high preterm rates among Medicaid recipients -- rural areas and Cuyahoga, Summit, Franklin and Hamilton counties.
- Provide $5 million for pregnant Medicaid recipients to receive twice-a-year dental visits. Poor dental health and disease may be associated with preterm and low birth weight, among other problems with babies.
- Require the Ohio Department of Health to develop educational materials on lead-based paint and distribute them to people who live in homes built before 1979 and to families who participate in the state’s Help Me Grow Program, which encourages prenatal and well-baby care and provides parents information about child health and development. Howse said lead exposure can cause irreversible brain and nervous system damage.
“We really are doing (the bill) due to… the lack of prenatal health care that is going on and really trying to begin to address the social determinants of health,” Howse said, “which many of you all know are the conditions our families live, learn, work and play in.”