Maternal Opioid Model receives federal grant

CHARLESTON — A state agency has received a $3 million federal grant to address opioid use disorder among pregnant and postpartum women.

West Virginia is one of 10 states to receive the funding for the Department of Health and Human Resources from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center.

The grant will support the Maternal Opioid Model initiative, which focuses on improving health outcomes for mothers and babies by addressing fragmentation of care for pregnant and postpartum women receiving Medicaid benefits.

The program builds upon the Drug Free Moms and Babies programs for services through 14 maternity care sites in West Virginia that are funded by the state and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Marshall Health-Marshall University Resource Corp. will lead the project as the designated care delivery partner for Medicaid. The West Virginia Perinatal Partnership will collaborate on the project to implement provider outreach education and support to program sites.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to take this successful and innovative project to the next level to ensure comprehensive services are available to all pregnant and postpartum women in West Virginia,” said Christina Mullins, commissioner of the department’s Bureau for Behavioral Health.

The grant, which will fund the initiative over a five-year period, provides the foundation for Medicaid to develop funding streams that support integration of maternity and behavioral health care.

“Under the M.O.M. initiative, we will explore the development of a health home model for this vulnerable population,” said Cynthia Beane, commissioner of the department’s Bureau for Medical Services. “This would enable Medicaid to support services provided in care settings where behavioral health and care coordination historically have not been reimbursed.”

Through the initiative, women are screened for substance use disorder and then provided comprehensive care coordination to help ensure the best possible health outcomes.

“The programs are by design all located within delivery hospitals and obstetric offices, where women seek maternity care rather than solely within behavioral health clinics,” Janine Breyel, director of substance use programming for the Perinatal Partnership, said. “It is the integration of behavioral health care into these environments that is innovative and as we have found, critically important,”

Pregnancy is a key time to interrupt the cycle of addiction as women want the best for their babies, Beth Welsh, associate director of operations for addiction sciences in family medicine at Marshall University, said.

“Many communities have fragmented care or just no care options for pregnant women,” she said. “We are eager to lead this project to help replicate these services to reach women in low-access areas of the state.”