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National legislation has been introduced to improve pregnancy mortality trends for Medicaid-covered moms.
Washington, D.C. – In recent years, physicians and researchers have been focusing intensely on preventable pregnancy-related deaths, finding that the leading causes are cardiovascular/coronary conditions, infections, excessive bleeding, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, and cardiomyopathy. Medicaid financed nearly half of all U.S. births in 2018, and in some states covers over 60% of births.
Records have also shown that pregnant patients on Medicaid have a higher rate of severe maternal morbidity and mortality than those with private health insurance. The statistic is unsurprising; Medicaid beneficiaries are primarily low-income individuals, who experience high rates of chronic illnesses and adverse health challenges. Black women have also been found to experience a disproportionate number of pregnancy-related deaths.
Given Medicaid’s ties to both a large number of births in the U.S. and to populations with a greater likelihood of chronic conditions, Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have teamed up to propose new prenatal care initiatives for Medicaid enrollees.
“Nearly 700 women died last year in the United States as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth, but we know that as many as two-thirds of these deaths may be preventable,” said Senator Toomey. “This legislation will help improve health outcomes for pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid by increasing information and resources to better monitor and treat at-risk pregnancies, as well as inform Congress on policies that may assist states in reducing maternal deaths.”
“A mother’s chance of surviving pregnancy shouldn’t depend on her zip code or the type of insurance she has,” said Brown. “Too many mothers are dying. As the death rate continues to skyrocket, the disparities in maternal mortality have increased along with it, further contributing to the Black maternal health crisis – and that has to change. By meeting moms where they are, listening to health experts, and establishing best practices, we can improve health outcomes and keep more of our mothers and children healthy and safe.”
The proposed legislation, called The Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act, would:
- Create a national advisory committee on reducing maternal deaths to:
- Establish best practices for Medicaid-covered care providers to screen, monitor, and treat at-risk pregnancies
- Generate culturally competent materials to inform pregnant patients about potential risks during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum
- Identify best practices for tracking maternal mortality trends
- Report to Congress on payment disincentives or regulatory barriers to the transfer of pregnant patients between facilities before, during, or after birth