The White House today released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Maternal Health Crisis Plan, covering the entire government’s approach to tackling maternal mortality and morbidity. For too many mothers, complications from pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium can lead to devastating health outcomes – including hundreds of deaths each year. This maternal health crisis is especially devastating for black women, indigenous women and women in rural communities who are dying and maternal morbidity is much higher than their white and urban counterparts.
Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, this administration is now taking another step towards a future in which the United States will be the best country in the world to have a child. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to lowering maternal mortality and morbidity rates, reducing the gaps in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall pregnancy and post-pregnancy experiences of people across the country. This commitment will require bold, unprecedented action as part of a government-wide strategy.
For starters, the administration is calling on Congress to improve and expand coverage by closing the Medicaid insurance gap and requiring continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum, as well as making significant investments included in President FY23’s budget to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.
The administration also acknowledges that urgent action is needed to resolve the maternal health crisis in the United States. Therefore, in addition to urging Congress to act, the White House mobilized a dozen federal agencies to develop a White House Plan to address the maternal health crisis. The plan identifies five priorities for improving maternal health and outcomes in the United States:
• Increasing access to and coverage of comprehensive, high-quality maternal health services, including behavioral services. • Ensuring that women giving birth are heard and are decision makers in a responsible care system. • Progress in data collection, standardization, harmonization, transparency and research. Expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce • Strengthen economic and social support for people before, during and after pregnancy.
For women who are pregnant, after giving birth or hoping to become pregnant, the actions in the Plan mean:
• Extended Postnatal Coverage: States are encouraged to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year after giving birth to ensure that women do not lose or change coverage during or shortly after pregnancy. will have more workers and capacity to provide maternal care through increased funding from the expanding Rural Obstetrics and Midwifery Management Strategy Program and more robust training for rural health care providers. while pregnant, and women will have access to a nationwide, confidential, 24-hour toll-free helpline if they have mental health problems. • Substance Use Services: Federal agencies will work with community organizations to help Ensure that drug addiction services and those trained in pregnancy substance use disorders are more accessible • No more surprises: with the No Surprises Act, women are now protected from some unexpected medical bills that may arise in during pregnancy, postnatal care and / or delivery. • Better Trained Providers: More healthcare providers will be trained on hidden bias as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate care so that more women are listened to, respected and empowered as decision makers in their own care • Improved maternal health data: through enhanced federal collaboration with states and local maternal health data collectors, communities, hospitals and researchers will have access to better data can analyze weaknesses niki during pregnancy and make improvements to support healthy pregnancies. • A more diverse maternity care workforce: federal agencies will invest more in hiring, training, and employing more doctors, certified midwives, doula, and local health professionals to support women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. The federal government will work to ensure that ers come from a wide variety of communities and backgrounds. • Improved access to douli and midwives: The government will work with states to increase access to douli and midwives and encourage insurance companies to pay for their services. • Expanded social services. : Stronger partnerships between departments Housing and urban development, agriculture, and health and social services will facilitate enrollment in federal housing, food, childcare, and financial aid programs as we know that health care is only one part of ensuring a healthy pregnancy. • Stronger workplace protection for mothers: Federal agencies will promote greater workplace protection and housing awareness for new parents, such as access to a private lactation room and pumping breaks.
The actions outlined in the Plan are the latest in many years of efforts by this administration to combat maternal mortality and morbidity. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris administration has taken significant steps to address the maternal health crisis in the United States, including:
• Expanding the scope of medical care after childbirth. Thanks to the US rescue plan, states now have an easier path to expand the Medicaid coverage from two to twelve months postpartum. Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have made use of this opportunity, extending the coverage to more than 250,000 women. • Announcement of a new ‘birth-friendly’ hospitals initiative. During December’s call to action, the vice president announced that through the Centers for Medicare & amp; Medicaid Services, Administration to Introduce “Birth Friendly” Hospitals – the first federal hospital quality label with an emphasis on maternal health. • Organization of the first-ever meeting of Cabinet officials on maternal health. In April of this year, Vice President Harris hosted the first-ever meeting of cabinet officials to discuss maternal health. This meeting brought together twelve agency leaders, including leaders from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development, to discuss ways this administration could use federal government resources to address maternal mortality and morbidity. • Hosting the First Day of Mother Health Action in the White House. In December 2021, the vice president issued a nationwide call to action for federal agencies, companies and nonprofits to work together to tackle the maternal health crisis. At the event, the vice president announced that this administration had secured millions of dollars for private sector commitments to improve maternal health.
As we continue to boldly address the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis, we will continue to listen to pregnant women and mothers who have babies and make sure that their views influence our approach to improving maternal health and strengthening our healthcare system. With the support of all parts of government and society, we can make this vision a reality.