LANSING (WWJ)  – The Kids Count in Michigan Project is out with its “Right Start in Michigan” 2012 report, ranking Michigan counties in areas that contribute to infant mortality.

The report ranks Oakland County among the 10 best and Wayne County among the 10 worst. Macomb County fell just below the 10 best.

– View a copy of the report (.pdf format) –

Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Project Manager for the group Kids Count in Michigan feels education is key to curbing at risk behavior.

She said, unfortunately, state lawmakers aren’t listening to groups pushing for better funding for programs that would reduce problems like smoking during pregnancy, teen pregnancy and low birth weight.

“They put together a long list of recommendations and the governor put forward less than a million dollars to implement those and the legislative appropriations committee have removed even that million dollars,” she told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Pat Sweeting.

Zehnder-Merrell said the push is on for state lawmakers to get moving on the Affordable Care Act which is particularly important for low-income women.

“Half the women who give birth in Michigan are Medicaid eligible. That means they have no insurance and they have income under 185-percent of the poverty level,” she said. “The problem is that they are not eligible, at that level, before they become pregnant or after the pregnancy is over.”

Zehnder-Merrell said the legislature needs to consider the impact of their actions — particularly on communities of color.


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