March of Dimes and Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation Continue Efforts to Prevent Premature Births

$85,870 Grant to Support Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®
Community Program

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#EmpireBlueCrossBlueShieldMarch
of Dimes
has announced an $85,870 grant from Empire
BlueCross BlueShield Foundation
to help prevent premature birth and
improve the health of moms and babies.

“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and
services for thousands of moms, to help them have healthy, full-term
pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, Senior
Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the March of Dimes. “The
March of Dimes applauds Empire BlueCross Blue Shield Foundation for its
dedication to better health for American families and their continued
support of our mission to help give every baby a fighting chance.”

The Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation grant will support the
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait (HBWW) community program in Queens,
New York. This program integrates public and clinical health, improves
systems of care, and reduces preterm birth through a range of
interventions, which include access to progesterone shots for women with
a previous preterm birth and CenteringPregnancy, among others. As one
advisory board member Marjory Louis-Villejoint, MSN, NP, CLC
Administrative Public Health Nurse with Nurse-Family Partnership put it,
“HBWW provided a link to the hospitals and providers. There’s been such
a big change. HBWW has helped us as a community. Our colleagues are seen
as partners rather than competition.”

The $85,870 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Empire BlueCross
BlueShield Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health
disparities and improving public health in New York City. Through its
Healthy Generations program, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation
is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues,
among them, reducing the incidence of low birthweight babies and
engaging mothers in prenatal care.

The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Empire
BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal
and infant health. Most recently, in 2015-2016, a $1 million grant from
Anthem Foundation, Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation’s parent
foundation, helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to
6,600 women, including 3,600 who participated in HBWW.

“Although a lot of progress has been made to prevent premature birth
and improve mom and baby health, it’s critical that we continue to
ensure programs are available and expanded to reach growing and diverse
communities,” said Larry Schreiber, president and CEO of
Empire
BlueCross BlueShield
. “We’re proud as a healthplan to partner
with the March of Dimes on Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait to give
every baby the healthiest start in life possible.”

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, seeks to
raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth
to 8.1 percent of births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030.

Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the U.S., and babies born even
a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization
compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the toll on families,
economic costs for prematurity are estimated at more than $26 billion
annually by the National Academy of Medicine.

About the March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy
and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited
from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.
For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites
marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual
signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If
you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community
to find comfort and support. You can also find us on Facebook or
follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the
Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the
BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in
the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes
Empire’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of
individuals and families in communities that Empire serves. The
Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and
provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as
promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational
initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions.
These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight
babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease
obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult
populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking
cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round
Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent
match of associates’ pledges.

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Serving New Yorkers for 80 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the
largest health insurer in New York supporting more than four million
members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New
York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire
HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is
the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees
of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and
businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York
State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com.
Also, follow us on Twitter at @Empirebcbs_News.

Contacts

Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Sally Kweskin, 212.476.1421
sally.kweskin@empireblue.com
or
March
of Dimes
Ruby Wint, 917.674.3518
rwint@marchofdimes.org