Infant Mortality Programs On Chopping Block 5-21-2010 - WSMV Channel 4

Infant Mortality Programs On Chopping Block 5-21-2010

Reported By Cara Kumari
NASHVILLE, Tenn.Infant mortality in Tennessee is higher than in some third-world countries, and the state has spent considerable time and resources trying to improve it. But one budget proposal would eliminate the funding for these programs, which some say will cost the state money and lives.

Video: Proposal Eliminates Infant Program Funding

One way the state is trying to address the infant mortality problem is by putting medical staff in high-risk neighborhoods to help expecting and new mothers.
"This money is going directly to hire direct staff who go house to house and home to home and in the clinics serving these pregnant women, new babies and new mothers," said Mary Bufwack of United Neighborhood Health Services.
The good news is the programs are working. The bad news is that virtually every program to combat infant mortality is on the chopping block under the Senate Republicans' budget proposal.
"All of the programs that are currently funded, all of the progress that has been made in the last couple of years would come to a halt," said Bob Duncan of the Governor's Office of Children's Care Coordination.
The proposal would eliminate funding for the Governor's Office of Children's Care Coordination, which distributes grants across the state.
Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally said the state has to prioritize and the office had high administrative costs.
"In a tight budget year, I'm sure a lot of these organizations have some value, but we're trying to focus just on the state's core services," McNally said.
But Duncan said spending a few dollars now could lead to millions in savings.
"When it comes to tough fiscal times, you want to look at programs that have a positive impact for children's health and well-being but also have a positive impact on the budget," he said.
Bufwack said cutting this program hurts because it's working to save lives.
"I deeply regret that we consider our mothers and babies so expendable that we could cut this money and not give them the services they need," Bufwack said.

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