11 Ways the White House's New Maternal Health Plan Will Help Moms

"Our vision for the future is that the United States will be considered the best country in the world to have a baby.”
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
June 27, 2022
young girl lying with her pregnant mother and kissing her mom's belly
Image: Santi Nuñez/Stocksy

Each year the maternal health crisis affects thousands of American women, from those who experience significant short- or long-term health consequences to those who lose their life. Women in the US are dying at a higher rate (23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births) from pregnancy-related causes than women in any other developed nation.

For some women, the risk is much higher. Regardless of income or education level, Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and women who live in rural areas are 60 percent more likely to die.

To combat this crisis, the White House released its Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis on June 24. The detailed plan outlines five priorities to improve maternal health outcomes in the US and 50 actions that over a dozen federal agencies will see through to help improve maternal care. In a statement accompanying the report’s release, the White House explains what these actions might mean for expecting and new moms.

11 ways the new Maternal Health Blueprint will help moms:

  1. Extended Postpartum Coverage: Under the plan, states are encouraged to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year postpartum so that women do not lose or have changes in their coverage during or soon after pregnancy.
  2. Stronger Workplace Protections for Mothers: Federal agencies will promote greater awareness of workplace protections and accommodations for new parents, like access to a private lactation room and break time to pump.
  3. Better Rural Maternal Care: Rural health care facilities will have more staff and capabilities to provide maternal care through increased funding from the expanding the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program.
  4. More Mental Health Resources: Providers will be trained on mental health during pregnancy, and women will have access to the new, confidential, 24-hour, toll-free Maternal Mental Health Hotline.
  5. No More Surprise Bills: Through the No Surprises Act, women are now protected from certain unexpected medical bills, which may occur during pregnancy, postpartum care, and/or delivery.
  6. Better Trained Providers: More providers will be trained on implicit biases as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate care, so that more women are listened to, respected, and empowered as a decisionmaker in their own care.
  7. Improved Maternal Health Data: Through enhanced federal partnerships with state and local maternal health data collection entities, hospitals will have access to better data to analyze poor outcomes during pregnancy and make improvements to support healthy pregnancies.
  8. A More Diverse Maternal Care Workforce: Federal agencies will invest more in hiring, training and deploying more diverse physicians, midwives, doulas, and community health workers to support women during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum.
  9. Better Access to Doulas and Midwives: The Administration will work with states to expand access to doulas and midwives and encourage insurance companies to cover their services.
  10. Expanded Social Services: Stronger partnerships between federal agencies will help make enrolling in federal programs for housing, food, childcare, and income assistance easier.
  11. Readily Available Substance Use Services: Federal agencies will partner with community-based organizations to ensure that addiction services and people trained in substance use disorder during pregnancy are more available.

The newly released plan is the most recent in a long list of initiatives Vice President Kamala Harris has pushed forward to combat maternal mortality and improve maternal mental health. In the report, Harris says, “My hope is that the steps outlined in this Blueprint will move us closer to a future where every woman and every mother has the care she needs to thrive.” Adding later, “Our vision for the future is that the United States will be considered the best country in the world to have a baby.”

Last year, Vice President Harris hosted the first-ever federal Maternal Health Day of Action, where she pledged the government’s commitment to work for safe pregnancies and childbirth. Since then, the Biden administration has launched the Maternal Mental Health Hotline and has provided funding in seven states to support a Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression Program.

Find more information on how you can advocate for game-changing maternal mental health legislation here.

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