January 23 is Maternal Health Awareness Day
Washington, D.C. — Today marks Maternal Health Awareness Day, an important reminder that the U.S. is facing a worsening maternal health crisis. This crisis is compounded by Republicans’ decades-long attacks on reproductive health and abortion care culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pregnancy-related deaths have worsened over the last three decades, and Black and Native women are two to three times more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes. Rates of maternal deaths are increasing most quickly for Hispanic women. Access to care is increasingly more difficult as one-third of U.S. counties are considered maternity care deserts. Complications related to pregnancy led to over 700 deaths in 2022, many of them preventable.
While Democrats have worked tirelessly to improve the health of mothers and their families, Republicans have rejected expanding affordable health care at every turn and instead fight to repeal advancements made. Despite these setbacks, the Biden-Harris administration is dedicated to expanding and protecting maternal health care. The White House released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a government-wide strategy to cut the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity and reduce disparities among maternal health outcomes. In addition, the Administration has worked to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from 13 states in 2021 to 46 states and the District of Columbia that presently offer or plan to offer the coverage.
In response, Protect Our Care Director of Policy Programs Andrea Harris issued the following statement:
“This Maternal Health Awareness Day we recognize the progress made by the Biden-Harris administration while also assessing the work that needs to be done. By working to eliminate Medicaid coverage gaps, diversifying the perinatal workforce, and strengthening social and economic supports for pregnant women and new parents, the Biden-Harris administration is saving lives and addressing the unacceptable inequities in maternal health outcomes. Meanwhile, Republicans have undermined access to contraception and preventive services and are fighting legislation to drive down health care costs and expand affordable care. With the federal right to a safe and legal abortion stripped, enacting strong measures to protect maternal health is more vital than ever.”
Biden-Harris Administration Has Expanded Medicaid Coverage Through 1 Year Postpartum. The Biden-Harris Administration, with Democrats in Congress, offered states incentives to expand Medicaid coverage for a full year postpartum first on a temporary basis through the American Rescue Plan and then permanently in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. President Biden is so committed to ensuring new mothers have the health care they need that he has proposed in his Budget to make 12 months of postpartum coverage mandatory for all Medicaid programs. The Biden-Harris administration announced that as of March 2023, an estimated 462,000 Americans have access to 12 months of postpartum coverage. 46 states and the District of Columbia have expanded or have made plans to expand Medicaid coverage to cover a full 12 months postpartum. Four states – Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa, and Idaho – have not made plans to expand postpartum Medicaid.
HHS Awarded More Than $103 Million For A New Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force And A National Public Education Campaign On Postpartum Depression. This past fall, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions and funding to fight the maternal health crisis. More than $103 million has been awarded to create a maternal mental health and coexisting substance use disorder task force to improve federal data collection and health equity, and implement best practices for prevention, screening, diagnosis, intervention, treatment, community practices, communication, and community engagement. The focus of the task force will be to ensure mental health equity and promote trauma-informed practices. The funding is also going towards a national public education campaign, called Talking Postpartum Depression, which will increase awareness of postpartum depression symptoms, share reliable resources, and demonstrate the many ways to access care.
- HHS Awarded Nearly $90 Million To Expand Maternal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Programs. The HRSA programs that have been awarded additional funding from HHS focus on expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce, increasing access to maternal health services in underserved and rural communities, investing in maternal mental health research, and supporting patients and families postpartum by training additional OB/GYNs, midwives, and maternal health care providers.
CMS Launched ‘Birthing Friendly’ Designation On Comparing Care Tool. The Biden-Harris Administration and CMS launched the ‘birthing friendly’ designation on CMS’s online Care Compare tool. This designation allows patients to search for a hospital that participates in a perinatal quality improvement collaborative program and that implements evidence-based care to improve maternal health. More than 24 health plans agreed to use this designation on their consumer-facing websites, reaching more than 150 million people.