Over 500,000 babies are born preterm every year in the U.S., resulting in lifelong neurosensory and cognitive disabilities; disparities in education, health and employment; and an estimated combined lifetime medical cost of over $26 billion. In South Carolina, preterm birth rates are higher than in Sudan, Iran and Bangladesh, and minority mothers face even worse prospects.

It was in this context that Fellow Amy Crockett, MD, took on as her Liberty Fellowship project the effort to expand CenteringPregnancy. This group model of prenatal care combines physical assessments and health education for expecting women within a supportive group environment.

Through Crockett’s pioneering research and evaluation, the model has been proven to decrease rates of preterm birth by almost 50 percent, reduce admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit, eliminate racial disparities in preterm births and improve family planning outcomes.

Once she found that it was significantly improving the lives of her own at-risk patients, Crockett sought to increase access to the model for patients across the state. She successfully worked with Medicaid and private insurers like BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina to provide enhanced reimbursement for the coverage. The program has resulted in over $7 million in medical savings, and over 25 states and countries like Mexico are working to adopt the model.

For her work, in 2016 The Aspen Institute and Trustee Anne Welsh McNulty named Amy recipient of the ninth annual John P. McNulty Prize. The $100,000 prize recognizes leaders who harness the innovation and excellence that characterized their career success to create replicable and sustainable models for addressing seemingly intractable problems around the world.

What people are saying about the CenteringPregnancy Expansion Project:

“When we think of complications at birth or infant mortality, we often think about developing countries dealing with abject poverty, weak infrastructure, or broken human services. Yet, this is occurring right here in the United States. With CenteringPregnancy, South Carolina & Dr. Crockett are pioneering a model of change that has global applications for women and children everywhere.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a member of the McNulty Prize jury

“CenteringPregnancy is a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery – a true innovation that is not only socially positive, but in fact profitable and more affordable for patients, taxpayers and the country.” – Anne Welsh McNulty

“Amy turned a desire to create better health outcomes into something tangible and meaningful, and she successfully formalized and institutionalized everything along the way.” – Christian Soura, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health & Human Services