WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — “Women in our nation are dying before, during and after childbirth,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday. Harris is calling on the private and public sectors to improve maternal health, as recent studies show minority and rural women in the U.S. experience poorer outcomes.
“When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, these systemic inequities can be a matter of life and death,” Harris said. One proposal would establish birthing-friendly hospital standards and provide guidance to states on how to cover Medicaid postpartum services for a year.
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“Because Medicaid pays for half of all births in this country, but for Black people, they pay for two-thirds, 66%, of all births,” Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) said. Underwood says right now, coverage in many states cuts off at 60 days.
“When we think about the maternal deaths, we’re losing between a quarter and a third of all moms in that extended postpartum period,” Underwood said.
The president’s social spending plan, includes three billion dollars for maternal health, funding lawmakers say is needed to address the issue.
“This is all preventable. We can increase prenatal visits, we can empower community-based organizations, we can not kick mothers off of their health care,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said.
Booker, as well as Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), say solving this problem will take work from both the states and the federal government.
“The collaboration must occur, and when it does, we’ll have good results,” Adams said.