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WIC/SNAP/TANF Cross-Enrollment Initiative


Infant mortality rates are an indicator of health at the general population level. The federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 Initiative has set a goal of 6.0 or fewer deaths per 1,000 births, a target that Ohio is currently not meeting. Exploring how to achieve this target, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) previously partnered with Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), and the InnovateOhio Platform (IOP) for Infant Mortality Phase 1, which linked more than 30 datasets and discovered that babies born to mothers enrolled in Medicaid are at an elevated risk of infant mortality. 

These identified mothers who are enrolled in Medicaid are not enrolled in other social services programs for which they are eligible: the Ohio Department of Health’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and two Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). WIC provides supplemental nutrition, nutrition education, and maternal resources; the program is proven to reduce the risk of infant mortality. 

By driving cross-enrollment in programs through data-driven solutions, there is significant potential to achieve a reduction in Ohio’s infant mortality rate and ensure that mothers in need are receiving critical social services.

Initial Outcome and Action 

The Ohio Department of Health predicts that by driving cross-enrollment for mothers enrolled in Medicaid across other social programs, there may be a potential reduction of 0.5-0.6 in Ohio’s infant mortality rate, totaling 68-78 babies saved.1  

Key goal: Reduce the infant mortality rate in Ohio by driving cross-enrollment in critical social programs for at-risk mothers by leveraging technology to inform the enrollment process. 

In order to successfully drive cross-enrollment, ODH partnered with IOP to perform advanced data matching to generate referral reports and refer consenting individuals to WIC. 

  • IOP developed a visual dashboard that allows ODH and WIC to visualize the data, understand key metrics, and monitor and measure the success of the initiative, potentially leading to further insights on the target populations.
  • ODH worked with IOP to employ advanced data matching with other agencies (ODJFS and ODM) on the platform to generate referral reports, allowing WIC to securely reach out to consenting populations.

A key initial insight from the dashboard that highlights the opportunity which exists to help more Ohioans:

  • There are more than 280,000 Ohioans currently enrolled in Medicaid and SNAP/TANF who may also be eligible to receive WIC benefits. 

This initial insight helps WIC to direct outreach efforts and look for additional opportunities to streamline cross-enrollment processes across agencies and help Ohioans understand all of the benefits for which they are eligible. 

An immediate action step gleaned from the data is to create an automated consent flag in Ohio Benefits applications for individuals to approve sending their information to the WIC Program. While this component is not yet developed, when it is, the solution would automatically send information from consented individuals directly to the WIC program to perform outreach, streamlining enrollment and ease-of-access for eligible individuals.

Looking forward, this initiative will improve health and access to critical programs for some of Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens. This project fulfills the DeWine-Husted administration’s priority to provide data-driven solutions to better serve Ohioans, leveraging technology to address social service enrollment gaps, ultimately helping mothers and babies to thrive.

“The Ohio WIC Program is thrilled with the design and implementation of this project. We anxiously await rollout to begin sharing data in order to better coordinate with our other state and local agencies to identify additional potential enrollees for the WIC Program. We anticipate that this cross-coordinated effort will lead to increased awareness and participation in this critical program that assists the most vulnerable Ohioans.”             
– Sean Keller, interim director, Ohio WIC Program 

1 The Infant Mortality Phase 1 Study, 2018, Ohio Department of Health. Accenture determined that, if individuals on Medicaid who do not enroll in WIC were to have the same outcomes as those on Medicaid who do enroll in WIC, 68-78 babies could be saved.