WASHINGTON -- Baltimore is among the 19 cities that federal officials have tentatively identified as being eligible for $171 million in federal grants to combat very high infant mortality. However, the cities must compete for only 10 grants.
The list of cities is based on such factors as the overall infant mortality rate and the number of black infant deaths in the past five years.
To get the money for the program, the cities would have to file applications with Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services, showing that they have a comprehensive plan to slash infant mortality by 50 percent over five years.
The money is to be used for prenatal care; programs to discourage smoking, drinking and drug abuse by pregnant women; and a coordinated "communitywide system" of health, education and nutrition services.
The administration plans to announce the availability of funds and invite applications in the next six weeks. Federal officials said they expected to choose the winners by Sept. 30.
The plan announced by President Bush last month is subject to approval by Congress, which appropriates the money for all federal programs. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern that Bush's plan would be financed, in part, by diverting money from clinics and child health programs in hundreds of other cities and rural areas.
The list of eligible cities includes Washington, with the highest infant mortality rate, followed in order by Detroit; Newark, N.J.; Baltimore; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Chicago; Cleveland; and New Orleans.
The other eligible cities are St. Louis; Kansas City, Mo.; Indianapolis; Boston; New York; Milwaukee; Jacksonville, Fla.; Houston; and Los Angeles.