The NY Times reports this weekend on rising infant mortality rates in the U.S. South (check out the disturbing graph to the left of the article).Â Obesity and hypertension are some of the medical causes among women that lead to the poorer health of their children; chronic poverty and reductions in social services for the poor are the social and political causes.
In the example of Mississippi, 54,000 individuals, mostly kids, have been dropped from Medicaid (health care for poor families, elderly and the disabled) and Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) rolls since 2005, following Gov. Haley Barbour’s 2004 election on a campaign in part that promised to shrink Medicaid.
Mississippiâ€™s Medicaid director, Dr. Robert L. Robinson, said…that suggesting any correlation between the decline in Medicaid enrollment and infant mortality was â€œpure conjecture.â€? (my emphases)
I prefer to think of it as a hypothesis, with initial supporting evidence including:
– The state Health Department has cut back its system of clinics, in part because of budget shortfalls and a shortage of nurses. Some clinics that used to be open several days a week are now open once a week and some offer no prenatal care.
– The department has also suffered management turmoil and reductions in field staff, problems so severe that the state Legislature recently voted to replace the director.
“Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Childrenâ€™s Defense Fund,” extends the hypothesis:
â€œWhen you see drops in the welfare rolls, when you see drops in Medicaid and childrenâ€™s insurance, you see a recipe for disaster. Somebodyâ€™s not eating, somebodyâ€™s not going to the doctor and unborn children suffer.â€?
At least these poor women and their unborn children will be spared the threatening practice of dilation and extraction should these pregnancies ever pose risks to these women’s health.Â You can’t say we’ve never done anything for ya’, ladies!