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Ballad Health leaders praise proposal to extend Medicaid eligibility to low-income new mothers

Staff • Dec 5, 2019 at 8:38 AM

Ballad Health leaders this week praised Gov. Bill Lee and the leadership of TennCare, including Deputy Commissioner Gabe Roberts, for a new policy proposal that enhances services for mothers and their newborn children.

In recent weeks, the Lee administration announced support for extending Medicaid eligibility to low-income new mothers for up to one year after they give birth. One major aspect of the policy proposal would benefit women who suffer from addiction, as it would provide their newborn children with the best opportunity to get off to a strong, healthy start.

Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine said he believes this policy will provide stability and support for women and their newborn children as they manage the transition through the first year of postpartum.

“Ballad Health announced only a few months ago the transition of the former Takoma Regional Hospital into a residential facility for women who are pregnant and who suffer from the challenges of addiction,” Levine said.

“This new policy proposal from Gov. Lee will provide needed resources to complement the plans we have for providing addiction treatment, prenatal care and other services needed by these mothers and their newborn children. And then, to be able to keep their eligibility for services in place for one year after the child is delivered means we can ensure a proper transition for the mother, giving her better economic security to help get her child off to a healthy start.”

“As we in the provider community seek innovative ways to provide needed services to women who struggle with homelessness, addiction, lack of support and resources and help give their children an opportunity to succeed and thrive, this policy proposal by Gov. Lee is going to save lives,” said Dr. Clay Runnels, chief physician executive at Ballad Health and a practicing emergency room physician.

“The timing is crucial, as we at Ballad Health continue to plan for a new residential facility for pregnant women who need services to help them plan for and deliver healthy babies.”

Levine added, “Ballad Health made the decision to invest in new residential services for pregnant women who suffer from addiction because we believe that, by doing so, we can provide the support they need to achieve both independence and to give their children an opportunity to thrive.

“By providing housing security, food security and appropriate services to help them learn to parent, by providing for their child and managing through their addiction or other complications, we believe we can increase the likelihood that these children will thrive, succeed in their education and be prepared to achieve their own economic security. The governor’s proposal is a major step in that direction, and we could not be more supportive of his plan.”

In August, Ballad Health announced it would commence planning to repurpose Greeneville Community Hospital West, formerly known as Takoma Regional Hospital, into a residential facility for women. Ballad Health is tapping into national experts as it continues to develop and implement its plan.

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