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Unitedhealthcare Community Plan Of Tennessee Grant To Improve Treatment For Newborns Suffering From Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee is providing $50,000 in grant funding to hospitals participating in a statewide program aimed at improving care for infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (July 16, 2013) – UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee is providing $50,000 in grant funding to hospitals participating in a statewide program aimed at improving care for infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

NAS is a widespread and growing problem in Tennessee, with the number of cases increasing at a rate twice the national average, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The program draws upon evidence-based practices from organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to provide participating NICUs with best practices designed to improve care for drug-dependent newborns. It initially targets improvement across three key variables of diagnosis and symptom scoring, narcotic-drug weaning and management, and environment/transition to home care.

The program is a learning collaborative administered by the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC). TIPQC was founded in 2008 by the Governor's Office of Child Care Coordination with the goal to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants in Tennessee by engaging key stakeholders in evidenced-based, data-driven performance-improvement initiatives.

“NAS occurs in newborns who are exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb,” said Dr. Joel Bradley, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. “Because the baby is still dependent on the drug at birth, symptoms of withdrawal may occur, such as fever, excessive crying, poor feeding, seizures, sleep problems, trembling and vomiting.”

 “Our goal with all TIPQC learning collaboratives is to provide participating teams with the tools to successfully implement evidence-based practices in their units. By working together and sharing data-driven experiences, hospital teams can enhance their NAS care,” said Peter Grubb, M.D., a neonatologist at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and medical director of the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care. “Success on a statewide scale requires collaboration among many stakeholders, and we appreciate UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee partnering with our participating teams to advance this important program.”

Data collected from participating NICUs will be analyzed to help determine the program’s effectiveness. As an incentive for participation and data collection, learning-collaborative NICUs will have the opportunity to share in the $50,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare at the program’s six-month mark.

“UnitedHealthcare is partnering with the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care to help better care for infants experiencing drug withdrawal,” said Scott A. Bowers, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. “Babies who are born addicted to drugs can experience a great deal of health complications and suffering, which come with a high cost for the newborns, their families and the health care system.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, infants with NAS stay in the hospital longer than other babies, and they may have serious medical and social issues. In 2010, the average cost of health care treatment for a baby receiving TennCare benefits who was born with NAS was nearly $41,000, compared with about $7,200 for a baby receiving TennCare benefits who was not born addicted to drugs.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.


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