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Vitale, Kean Bill to Require Medicaid Coverage for Group Prenatal Care Passes Senate

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale and Senator Thomas Kean, which would require Medicaid coverage for group prenatal care services, passed the Senate today.

“It is clear we can do better for the mothers and soon to be mothers in our state,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “The results of group prenatal care are exceptional, from nearly eliminating the racial disparities in preterm births to reducing costs in an increasingly expensive system. With over 40% of births in New Jersey being covered by Medicaid, this legislation will expand access to life changing care for thousands of women in the state. Group care is a proven and innovative improvement to traditional prenatal care and should be accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable in our society.”

Group prenatal care services would be defined as a series of prenatal care visits provided in a group setting that includes health assessments, social and clinical support, and educational activities.

The bill, S-3405, would provide an expansion of the State Medicaid program to include coverage for group prenatal care services under certain circumstances. The Medicaid program would cover expenses for conditions that would include group prenatal care visits that are at least 1.5 hours in duration, with 2-20 women participating. It would include no more than 10 group prenatal care visits per pregnancy.

Under the bill, the provider of services would include, but not be limited to, federally qualified health centers and community health centers operating in the State. These providers would be sites accredited by the Centering Healthcare Institute or engaged in an active implementation contract with the Centering Healthcare Institute that utilizes the CenteringPregnancy model.

The Centering Healthcare Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 2001 that aims to improve healthcare through the training and support of group care providers. The CenteringPregnancy model redesigns the traditional model of patient and health care provider in an exam room to a group setting that allows for care based on clinical and peer support.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 36-0.