Granholm Blueprint To Prevent Unintended Pregnancies Making Progress

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

September 27, 2006

LANSING – More than 50 community members and stakeholders joined Michigan Surgeon General Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom as the state recognized the progress made toward implementing Governor Jennifer M. Granholm’s blueprint strategy to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies statewide.

“I am thrilled that we have made such progress toward addressing unintended pregnancies in a short period of time,” Wisdom said at the Lansing event. “The statistics we already have clearly indicate promising news for Michigan now – and in the future. The work thus far is an excellent example of the Governor’s commitment to ensuring that women have access to the care they need.”

Since tackling this important health care issue, Michigan has made the following crucial first steps toward seeing reductions in the state’s unintended pregnancy rates:

  • More than 11,500 women now have critical family planning services through the Plan First! program funded by a federal waiver the state applied for and received – over and above those who qualify for services under Medicaid. Michigan continues to add more than 250 women to the program each day, all of whom now have the ability to access critical family planning services. Plan First! extends family planning services to women at up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • More than 800 middle school parents have been trained with the skills necessary to talk with their children about abstinence and sexuality in 62 Talk Early & Talk Often (TETO) pilot sites. Requests for the TETO curriculum have come from all across the United States, from as far away as Alaska and the Cayman Islands. Almost three months after the TETO pilot concluded:

o 98 percent of parents reported the workshop increased their ability to “open the door” to talk with their middle schoolers.

o 98 percent of parents reported that the workshop increased their ability to respond to questions their middle schoolers may have.

o 99 percent of parents said they would recommend the workshop to other parents.

Wisdom also announced the formation of a new statewide Provider Task Force. This interdisciplinary group of 20 to 25 experts in women’s health will include physicians, social workers, nurses and nurse practitioners, health plans, state and local public health, universities and medical schools, school-based health centers, and Title X clinics. Participants will reach out to underserved populations and those working with cultural minorities, and develop broadly disseminated reference information to support providers in effectively counseling women on how to not become pregnant unless the pregnancy is planned.

In announcing the program in July 2005, Granholm said parents should be the primary sex educators of their children, and we want to lead the way by giving them the tools they need to talk frankly about issues involving abstinence and sexuality.

“If all pregnancies were intended, the state would see significant reductions in infant mortality, child abuse, child neglect, and abortion,” Granholm added. “When armed with information and the tools they need to communicate effectively, parents can be instrumental in providing critical messages to their children that can help them abstain from sexual intercourse. By doing so, they can help them avoid early and unintended pregnancy as well as the threat of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.”

The Michigan Department of Community Health’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS - a survey of maternal experiences and behaviors before and during a woman's pregnancy) data for the year 2001 shows that 40.6 percent of pregnancies were unintended.

The total cost to Medicaid for the delivery of a baby and first year of life is $11,528 – with the cost of delivery averaging $6,197 and the cost of first year of life services averaging $5,331. In FY 2000, the state Medicaid program paid for prenatal, delivery and post-natal care of roughly 26,000 unintended births. Each birth cost Medicaid $11,000, which translates to $286 million in costs for Michigan.

If Michigan can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by 10 percent, it would save the state over $27 million in Medicaid expenditures annually.

“Ultimately, when we see the rate of unintended pregnancy in Michigan trend down, and gaps of health disparity around this issue begin to irrefutably close – that is when we will know that we also have begun to make a difference,” said Dr. Thomas Petroff, Chief Medical Officer of McLaren Health Plan/Health Advantage and chairperson of the Provider Task Force.