The Biden administration has released a plan to address the nation’s maternal health crisis, seeking to push states to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage and increase access to maternity care services.

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. Senior administration officials said the plan, released on Friday, aims to tackle these inequalities through a variety of actions developed over 18 months that focus on fairness.

The first priority of the White House plan is calling on states to increase the required postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. The extension, officials said, means 720,000 women will be covered.

This will also include expanding access to services such as doulas, midwives, breastfeeding rooms, and a free national maternal mental health hotline.

Another priority is increased data collection on maternal health risks and outcomes.

At the moment, as the plan explains, data collection on maternal health remains fragmented, making it difficult to identify the necessary solutions. Through improved data collection, researchers can “make improvements to support healthy pregnancy.”

The plan also provides for the expansion and diversification of the perinatal workforce while strengthening economic and social support for people before, during and after pregnancy.

Health care workers will receive “more thorough” training in drug treatment services and learn how to provide “culturally and linguistically appropriate care”.

The administration said it also wants to make it easier for people to enroll in federal food, housing, childcare, and income assistance programs.

Vice President Harris will travel to Illinois Friday with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Illinois Representatives Robin Kelly (D) and Lauren Underwood (D), co-chair of the Black Mothers’ Health Caucus, to talk more about the plan.

The maternal mortality crisis has been a top priority for Harris since she served in the Senate, with a particular focus on closing health care disparities for black mothers at a time when black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related problems. than whites. women.

In 2018, Harris and Rep. Alma Adams (DNC) introduced a Congressional resolution recognizing Black Mothers’ Health Week. Harris was also active in promoting the first Momnibus Bill, which aims to address health disparities faced by black mothers.

The president’s proposed 2023 budget, which includes $470 million to improve maternal health and reduce inequalities, comes amid broader uncertainty about women’s reproductive rights. A Supreme Court ruling in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade is expected as early as Friday.

Officials say the president and vice president are committed to “developing a whole-of-government approach” to reproductive rights and “an unprecedented attack on our constitutional rights.”

A senior administration official said Harris is committed to ensuring that “women are protected in terms of their safety, health and well-being.”

“She is fully convinced that in order to ensure women have access to their full reproductive rights, it also means that women have access to maternal health care,” the official said.

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