Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns: Fact Sheet

Strong Start Release of 2nd Amended Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)
Release Date: July 3, 2012

As part of the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative, CMS has released a funding opportunity for providers, states, managed care organizations, and conveners to test the effectiveness of specific enhanced prenatal care approaches to reduce preterm births in women enrolled in Medicaid. The goal of the initiative is to determine if these approaches to care can reduce the rate of preterm births, improve the health outcomes of pregnant women and newborns and decrease the anticipated total cost of medical care over the first year of life for children born to mothers enrolled in Medicaid and/or CHIP.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is very pleased with the high level of interest in the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) No. CMS-1D1-12-001. However, we have received numerous questions and suggestions about this initiative from organizations throughout the country interested in testing new models of prenatal care.  In order to address concerns about  the requirements for a successful application, CMS has revised the Strong Start FOA.

The amended FOA shifts the responsibility for obtaining linked state vital statistics and Medicaid claims and utilization data from the applicant to CMS.  Applicants themselves will no longer be required to obtain letters of agreement from their states to provide these data.  Rather, CMS will work independently with program awardees’ States to obtain data that are collected by states to measure the outcomes of the Strong Start initiative.  We believe these adjustments will promote a more diverse and robust applicant pool, and increase our likelihood of success in achieving the number of births required to test the models.

The key changes to the FOA are as follows:

  • CMS revised the FOA to remove the requirement to supply a Letter of Agreement from the applicant’s state(s).
  • CMS also revised the FOA to remove the requirement for States to link vital records and Medicaid claims data in the Strong Start funding opportunity. Instead, applicants must be able to provide gestational age and birthweight data on births of intervention infants and from a baseline period that spans at least 2 years prior to the start of the intervention.
  • CMS is committed to a rigorous model evaluation and, therefore, will pursue linked State vital records and Medicaid claims and encounter data through a parallel effort to the Strong Start funding opportunity.
  • In order to make these program changes, CMS has extended the program timelines and eliminated the Letter of Intent (LOI) requirement in order to allow potential applicants the opportunity to modify or develop applications that are consistent with the new information. The new application deadline for the Strong Start funding opportunity is August 9, 2012 with optional LOIs due August 8, 2012. The anticipated award date is October 5, 2012.

CMS continues its commitment to the goals of the Strong Start initiative as a robust program to test approaches to prenatal care.

We encourage potential applicants to review the amended FOA at http://www.innovations.cms.gov/Files/x/Strong-Start-for-Mothers-and-Newborns-Funding-Opportunity-Announcement.pdf.

More information about the Strong Start initiative can also be found at http://innovations.cms.gov/initiatives/Strong-Start/index.html.