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Prenatal Care still important for Nebraska’s babies

Hello! My name is Jena and I wanted to take the time to introduce myself as an intern with Voices for Children in Nebraska. I have been given the opportunity and privilege to work closely with this organization and learn about the foundations, purpose, and objectives. I, myself, am currently working as a registered nurse and also completing my graduate education in Nursing Administration and Leadership.

I personally have the advantage of not only receiving healthcare benefits but I work within the healthcare field itself which affords me the ability to witness first-hand the shortcomings of this system. These shortcomings start with the youngest of consumers, the babies, infants, and children of Nebraska. The loss of prenatal care for many Nebraska babies in 2010 was a significant setback for child health. The issue brief published in June 2010 by Voices for Children organization depicts and portrays the importance of prenatal care (http://voicesforchildren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/CV-2010Spring.pdf).

Lack of prenatal care is associated with more pre-mature births and lower birth weights.  These outcomes translate into increased spending by the state and its taxpayers in terms of financing birth related complications, intensive healthcare requirements, and future complications. By eliminating prenatal care to 1,619 unborn babies on March 1, 2010, the state willingly agreed to accept the financial responsibility that is associated with their birth, care, and future needs. Costs associated with a complicated birth range widely from $20,000 to $400,000 per infant versus $6,400 for a “normal” and uncomplicated birth.  When we look at these costs compared to the cost of providing prenatal care, we can see a return on our investment. The Institute of Medicine published a report that stated with every $1 spent on prenatal care correlates to a savings of $3.38 in reduced medical care expenditures regarding those high-risk and low birth weight infants.

Prenatal care makes a difference for a lifetime and healthy babies are worth the investment. LB 599, a bill to restore prenatal care for all low-income Nebraska babies, is still awaiting action in the Health and Human Services Committee of the State Legislature.  We hope that like us, you believe that every baby still deserves the best possible start in life.  Look for more from us on this issue in the coming weeks as we talk more about why prenatal care matters and why now is the time for Nebraska to reverse this poor decision and invest in healthy babies.

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