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Pomelo Care collects $33M for maternal and newborn VBC

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Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Pomelo Care, a virtual maternal and infant health medical practice, raised $33 million to fuel partnership expansions with major health plans, CEO Marta Bralic Kerns tells Axios.

Why it matters: The company addresses underlying risk factors to improve maternal and newborn health, increase access to care and reduce avoidable costs.

Details: Andreessen Horowitz led both funding rounds, with additional participating investors First Round Capital (who co-led the Seed round), SV Angel, Operator Partners, Allen & Company LLC and BoxGroup.

  • The round is broken down into $8 million in seed funding and $25 million in Series A funding.
  • Additional investors included Adam Boehler, managing partner of Rubicon Founders, and Puneet Singh, former chief growth officer, diversified business group at Elevance.

How it works: Pomelo is a virtual medical practice that addresses underlying risk factors.

  • The company supports its patients from preconception through an infant’s first year, with personalized and proactive 24/7 care from a dedicated, multi-speciality team.
  • Customers include Penn Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System, Koch Industries, Elevance Health, Healthy Blue Nebraska, Nebraska Total Care.

What's next: Pomelo is targeting expansion in Medicaid populations and rural geographies — where access is limited and outcomes desperately need improvement.

  • "There are still so many maternity care deserts, where people are traveling over an hour to get care," says Kerns. "Our mandate is to go where the need is the highest."
  • The company is well-capitalized and doesn't anticipate needing more capital for "the next couple of years," Kerns says.

What they're saying: "Our country has one of the worst mortality rate for infancy, plus there is a huge socio-economic disparity," says Vineeta Agarwala, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

  • "Pomelo's business model augments and enables the existing obstetrician's, rather than try an replace them," she says, noting Pomelo focuses equally on mother and child health.
  • "You can’t just look at mom but you have to look at baby, too," she says. "It does not make sense to separate baby care from mom care from a patient journey perspective."

Of note: Despite spending over $100 billion on maternal health care, the US has some of the highest rates of preterm birth and preventable complications in the developed world.

The bottom line: "There is not one answer across the country when it comes to value-based care," Kerns says. "We have seen lots of movement to VBC in Medicare advantage world and the next frontier will be Medicaid."

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