Home » NASCEND and Kentucky Association of Health Plans partner to improve care for opioid-exposed infants

NASCEND and Kentucky Association of Health Plans partner to improve care for opioid-exposed infants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — NASCEND, an innovative clinical solution, education, and certification Public Benefit Corporation enhanced by technology and dedicated to improving outcomes for infants and families affected by maternal substance use disorder (SUD), announced a three-year grant award totaling $750,000 from Kentucky Association of Health Plans (KAHP), the trade association representing commercial insurers and Medicaid managed care organizations in the Commonwealth. The grant will support standardizing and enhancing care for opioid-exposed infants in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Kentucky has been particularly affected by the opioid epidemic, with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) rates reaching 19.4/1000 infants, with a peak rate of 77/1000 infants in the Appalachian region—substantially higher than the national average of 7/1000 infants.

NASCEND’s NAS Certification Program (NNCP) is designed to address these challenges by standardizing care and improving outcomes for opioid-exposed infants. The program includes advanced comfort measures, music integration, a proprietary newborn assessment, a responsive treatment algorithm, growth optimization, and enhanced parental engagement. The program has already made a significant impact, training over 7000 healthcare providers across 38 states and improving the lives of more than 1.6 million infants.

“Our team is very excited about the impact this grant from KAHP is going to have on maternal, neonatal, and pediatric health in Kentucky, particularly in rural areas,” said Dr. K. Dawn Forbes, MD, MS, a nationally recognized expert in the care of infants and families affected by maternal opioid use, addiction and infant withdrawal and the Founder and CEO of NASCEND, based in Louisville. “We will be able to address a lack of standardized care guidelines, outdated and ineffective infant assessment tools, overused medication treatment, poor parental engagement, and insufficient nutrition.  This is a game-changer, and we appreciate Kentucky health plans for being laser-focused on improving the social determinants of health.”

The grant from KAHP will enable NASCEND to extend this program’s reach to rural hospitals in Kentucky, where resources and staffing are often limited. This will help decrease the need to transfer infants to facilities in urban areas, better maintain patient-provider relationships, reduce family stress, and retain care and resources locally while also contributing to an estimated cost savings of at least $2.83 million annually by serving a minimum of 500 infants per year at full implementation.

“Kentucky’s Medicaid managed care organizations are proud to partner with NASCEND, who continue to show demonstrable results by eliminating care gaps and improving health outcomes for mothers and babies,” said KAHP Vice President of External Affairs Katherine Kington North.

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