Tuesday State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) with House Democratic lawmakers and healthcare advocates, discussed policies in the state budget that would limit pregnancy care, family planning and breast and cervical cancer treatment for lower income Ohioans. The changes in healthcare coverage are being proposed as Ohio ranks second highest in the nation for infant mortality. 

“A major risk factor of infant mortality is lack of resources, which will certainly be a consequence of the governor’s proposed plan to cut health services for pregnant women," said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. "If we say we want reduce the abysmal infant mortality rate in this state, we should continue to focus on ways to help alleviate poverty, which affects nearly 3 million impoverished Ohioans, including many families in my district in Youngstown where over 60 percent of children are living in poverty. Ohio families deserve better.”

The policy changes in the governor’s budget would eliminate programs for prenatal care, family planning and cancer prevention and treatment coverage for pregnant women earning between $21,708 and $31,460, up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The planned cuts were proposed despite U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data that suggests women who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a baby born at low birth weight and five times more likely to have their baby die before their first birthday.

In 2012, Ohio’s infant mortality rate was 7.56 per 1,000 live births, a number that has remained stagnant while the nation’s overall infant mortality rate has been in decline, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio’s black infant mortality rate is the second worst in the nation, at nearly 14 deaths per 1,000 births. 

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