For Immediate Release: November 3, 2022

For more information contact:
Kelly Cannon
O: (816) 395-3711

KANSAS CITY, MO. (November 3, 2022)—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC), in partnership with BioNexus KC, is proud to announce the 2022 Blue KC Transforming KC Heath Outcomes Research Grant has been awarded to Angela Martin, MD, OBGYN, Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Kansas Health System. The $50,000 grant – established to bolster the ongoing commitment to health equity – will support research on how doula care impacts healthcare quality and reduces poor outcomes for Black pregnant and birthing people.

“People of color, especially Black pregnant and birthing people, are at a higher risk of poor birth outcomes in the United States,” Dr. Martin said. “Our faculty and staff at The University of Kansas Health System are devoted to birth equity. We are excited to investigate ways to combat maternal health disparities for Black birthing people here in Kansas City.” Dr. Martin and her team will screen Black patients receiving prenatal care at The University of Kansas Health System for risk factors that increase their risk of a poor outcome. These patients will be randomized to receive standard prenatal care or doula-enhanced care. Results will be compared between patients in routine prenatal care and patients in doula-enhanced care to evaluate if doulas improve care quality and reduce adverse effects.

Since 2012, Blue KC and BioNexus KC have partnered to award more than $1 million in grants to projects that improve the health and wellness of the Kansas City community. The Blue KC Transforming KC Heath Outcomes Research Grant program aims to leverage grantee and facility strengths, leading to highly competitive proposals for future external funding and scalable innovation.

“Our partnership with BioNexus is incredibly important. People of color, particularly mothers, are greatly affected by health inequities. The Blue KC Health Outcomes Research Grant facilitates innovative research that can lead to real impact and change,” said Erin Stucky, President and CEO, Blue KC. “I’m so proud that Blue KC continues to champion and support initiatives that strive to create more equitable opportunities and improve our members’ long-term health and wellness.”

The maternal mortality rate (MMR) and severe maternal morbidity rate (SMM) have increased approximately 200 percent over the past 20 years. In Kansas, Black mothers, and other ethnic minorities account for 13 percent of births but 60 percent of all maternal deaths. In Kansas and Missouri, Black women are two times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than non-Hispanic White women. Social and political determinants of health are significant drivers of these maternal and child health outcomes. The Blue KC Transforming KC Heath Outcomes Research Grant is an important tool to spur new insights and intervention research.

For more information on the BioNexus KC Research Development Grants Program, visit

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Missouri and the only not-for-profit commercial health insurer in Kansas City, has been part of the Kansas City community since 1938. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City provides health coverage services to more than one million residents in the greater Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and 30 counties in Northwest Missouri. Our mission: to provide affordable access to healthcare and to improve the health of our members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information on the company, visit its website at

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