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MDHHS director meets with Detroit families to highlight $68 million FY24 budget plan to build on infant and maternal health

Successful Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative to expand
evidence-based services, improve outcomes by addressing inequity

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel spoke with Detroit-area families about the personal impacts of the state’s current plan designed to address maternal and infant health and equity and to seek input on the updated plan during a town hall meeting at Focus: HOPE in Detroit Wednesday afternoon. Hertel also shared information about the success of the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer-supported Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative, and what the future holds for this program in the current budget proposal.

The meeting was part of a series of events being hosted in every region of the state to gather input for the next version of the Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan. Topics include an overview of successes under the current plan and opportunities to provide feedback on the next version of the plan.  

“Michigan has made strides in implementing a multi-faceted approach to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and has reduced the state’s infant mortality rate to a new record-low,” said Hertel. “However, we can and must do more for Michigan families. All Michigan mothers, infants and families should have access to quality and timely care, and to resources that help them thrive.”

Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies is an initiative that began in 2021 and includes the expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage, the addition of Medicaid doula services and the implementation and expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs. The FY24 budget proposal builds on those investments by expanding evidence-based services to improve outcomes by addressing inequity.

"The Southeast Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative is pleased to join Director Hertel and Governor Whitmer as we jointly strive to improve birth outcomes and reduce disparities in maternal and child health,” said Vernice Anthony, Southeast Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Coalition Lead Consultant and Public Health Expert. “The data and evidence informs us that 60% of maternal deaths are preventable, Black women die at three to four times the rate of white women and reducing sleep related deaths can significantly reduce infant deaths in all babies.

MDHHS has been a strong partner and funder in supporting success in our communities, with the recognition that the groundwork for real impact must be done at the local regional level, community by community. However, policy change and funding are essential from the state and Governor Whitmer’s 2024 budget proposal provides that essential support by increasing funding for the Regional Quality Collaboratives statewide."

While improvements have been realized, persistent challenges remain. Mothers and babies are still dying from preventable causes, with between 80 and 90 women dying each year in Michigan during pregnancy, birth or within one year of pregnancy. Michigan has reduced its pregnancy-related mortality rate from 14.1 per 100,000 live births in 2016 to 10.9 per 100,000 live births in 2018. The infant mortality rate has declined from 7.1 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to a record-low 6.2 per 1,000 live births in 2021. 

However, these rates vary drastically based on race and ethnicity. Michigan families continue to face deeply embedded systemic inequity, social biases and related stressors that are closely associated with adverse health outcomes. Black postpartum individuals are dying at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. The pregnancy

associated maternal mortality rate was 144.9 per 100,000 births in 2019 for Black mothers and 59.2 per 100,000 live births for white mothers. In addition, babies born to Black, non-Hispanic women were more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday than babies born to white, non-Hispanic women (13.6 and 4.4 per 1,000 live births, respectively).

To help address inequities and ensure Michigan families have the support they need for healthy pregnancies and aftercare, the FY24 budget includes the following proposals for the Healthy Moms, Healthy babies program:

  • $32.1 million to remove the five-year waiting period for children and pregnant women legally residing in Michigan to access Medicaid.
  • $6.2 million to support the Medicaid state plan amendment to include the Plan First! benefit for family planning services.
  • $10 million to expand and strengthen services provided by Centering Pregnancy sites for improved pre-natal care.
  • $10 million to increase investment in Michigan Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MI-PQC) by funding regional local collaboratives and growing the ability to further improve maternal and infant health outcomes.
  • $10 million to support birthing hospitals.

“Improving maternal and infant health outcomes will lead to better health outcomes short-term, long-term and result in generations of healthier families and communities,” said Hertel. “Investing in our youngest residents and families is an investment in our future.”

Additional Town Hall meetings about the Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan are slated in May. Online registration is requested and is available below, linked to the individual meeting dates listed below:

For more information about the Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan, visit

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