Kelsey Bill Would Pay Expectant Moms $50 Per Doctor Visit

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, who apparently will be running against Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle this year because of redistricting, proposes that the state to pay expectant mothers in three Memphis ZIP codes $50 each time they visit the doctor during their pregnancies.
Excerpt from the Commercial Appeal story:
Kelsey, R-Germantown, said his idea, now represented in Senate Bill 2173, is a new way to combat infant mortality.
“It’s really, really tragic what is going on here in our city,” he said of Memphis’ perennial ranking as the statewide leader in infant deaths before age 1. “I want to be part of the solution.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis said he had never heard of such a concept and would want to hear reaction from expectant mothers.
“I’m not sure if someone would view it as being offensive: ‘Are they saying I wouldn’t get the care without the money?’ or if they’d say: ‘I could use the $50,'” he said.
Yvonne Madlock, director of the Health Department, called Kelsey’s bill “an intriguing idea, one that is worthy of further consideration.”
“I think we’d have to do research to determine whether or not there’s evidence to say this really can have an impact,” she said.
….For about a decade, The Med’s High-Risk Infant Follow-up Clinic has been offering parents of medically fragile newborns a financial incentive — from $50 to $100 — to bring their infants in for checkups to prevent or lessen physical, mental and learning disabilities.
“We have seen, with a financial incentive, the parent does bring the baby back to the clinic more often,” Dhanireddy said.
…Kelsey’s bill would launch financial incentives for prenatal care in the three Memphis ZIP codes with the highest infant mortality rates: 38106 in South Memphis; 38114, encompassing Orange Mound and parts of South Memphis; and 38103, which includes Downtown and parts of Mud Island. Kelsey selected those ZIP codes based on data from 2007-09, the most recent data from the county Health Department.
“It would be difficult to get state dollars to a Shelby County-only program,” Kyle said.
Kelsey said he wanted the program to go statewide, but felt it had a better chance of passing as a smaller, pilot project.
Shelby County would be a logical launching pad, he said, because it has long had the highest numbers of infant deaths in the state.
The county remained at the top in 2009 with 187 infant deaths, according to the state Health Department’s most recent statewide data. The second highest was Davidson County, which had 75.

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