Sacramento, CA | Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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More than forty March of Dimes volunteers and staff came to Sacramento for the organization’s annual day of advocacy in order to raise awareness for maternal-child health issues. March of Dimes leads the fight to improve the health of all moms and babies. The volunteers represented a diverse group of health care professionals and families from all over the state who have been touched by heart-wrenching and costly maternal and infant health issues. The cohort of passionate March of Dimes volunteers and staff met with state legislators to speak about three key 2018 advocacy priorities – all of which advance health equity and the March of Dimes’ mission.  This year’s priorities are:
1)    March of Dimes supports the California Perinatal Equity Initiative. A $15 million budget request to fund three interventions that have demonstrated potential to reduce California’s black-white gap in infant mortality and improve maternal and infant health generally. The three interventions are: birth spacing/pregnancy intentionality, supportive prenatal care, and fatherhood initiatives. 
2)    March of Dimes supports Assembly Bill 2579 which would provide funding to implement an expedited Medi-Cal enrollment for children by using eligibility information from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and federal Express Lane Eligibility (ELE) authority.  The proposal would also fund a Medi-Cal presumptive eligibility pathway from WIC for pregnant women.
3)    March of Dimes supports the Governor's budget proposal of a new In-Home Visiting Initiative for CalWORKs families to begin January 2019. This is an evidence-based, voluntary program model that pairs new, first-time parents, under the age of 25 who are pregnant or parenting a child under two years of age, with a nurse or trained professional who makes regular visits in the participant’s home to provide guidance, coaching, and access to prenatal and postnatal care and other health and social services.
During the morning advocacy training, there was also the celebration of dedicated volunteers who have significantly impacted the lives of California moms and babies and the recognition of Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) as the 2018 March of Dimes Legislative Champion. He was recognized for his outstanding leadership, passion and tireless efforts to support key programs and policies that improve the health of women, children and infants in California. In 2017, Assemblymember Arambula successfully led the state’s efforts to urge the federal government to reauthorize funding for the maternal infant early childhood home visiting program. Funding was approved for five years with graduated increases.

March of Dimes also honored the dedicated volunteers of the service organization, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. with the Gail Margolis March of Dimes Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Champion Award.  Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has made significant contributions by supporting numerous March of Dimes advocacy efforts, including policies related to newborn screening, health care access and maternal and child health programs.  

Past March of Dimes Legislative Champions Recipients in California
2017 --  Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) for her leadership and actions on the Senate Budget Committee with many key budget decisions that have improved the health of women and children, including restoration of funding for the Black Infant Health Program, and protecting the California Children’s Services Program.
2016 – Senator Ben Allen (D–Santa Monica) for co-authoring Senate Bill 277, which eliminated the personal belief exemption from school immunization law.
2016 -- Assembly Member Catherine Baker (R–Dublin) for her leadership and votes on key maternal and child health bills including bills related to immunizations, newborn screening and tobacco control.
2015 – Assembly Member Weber (D- San Diego) for ensuring that the state budget restored $4 million in funding for the Black Infant Health (BIH) Program.
2014 – Senator Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) for leading efforts as Chair of the Senate Health Committee to expand access to and improve the quality of health care for women and children.
2013 – Assembly Member Marty Block (D-San Diego) for authoring and getting signed into law Assembly Bill 1731 in 2012 to require newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).
2012 – Assembly Member (now Senator) Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) for authoring and getting signed into law Assembly Bill 395 in 2011 to require newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).

Past March of Dimes California Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Champions 
2017 – Arlene Cullum, (Sutter Health, Sacramento) for her significant contributions to supporting numerous advocacy efforts. In 2016, she was a lead volunteer on March of Dimes top priority issues – to protect the California Children’s Services (CCS) Program and to attempt to restore funding for the Adolescent Family Life Program.   
2016 - Erin Richardson, (Simi Valley) for her support of Senate Bill 277 and Cindy Wyvill (San Francisco Bay Area) for helping to protect newborn screening and testifying in 2015 against Assembly Bill 170 when March of Dimes was opposed to the bill.  
2013 –Dr. Balaji Govindaswami (San Jose), Laura Rothgery (Palmdale) and the Peltier Family (Oceanside) for supporting and testifying their personal experience which helped get signed into law Assembly Bill 1731 in 2012 to require newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).
2012 – The Mullan Family (San Francisco Bay Area) for supporting and testifying their personal connection which helped enable getting law Assembly Bill 395 (require newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)) signed into law in 2011.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

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