Maternal Health Awareness Day: How States Can Improve Access and Equity

Sellers Dorsey is pleased to support Maternal Health Awareness Day, a critical initiative aimed at increasing awareness of the current U.S. maternal health crisis.

According to the National Governors Association (NGA), despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world with substantial healthcare spending, the United States has a maternal mortality rate more than double that of other high-income countries like Norway and Germany, and this number is only increasing. According to a recent study released by the CDC, maternal mortality rates, which are the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, increased from 754 in 2019 to 1,205 maternal deaths in 2021.

Maternity Care Deserts and Racial Disparities: A Pervasive Issue in U.S. Maternal Health

More than 2.2 million U.S. women ages 15 to 44 live in maternity care deserts which are counties that have no hospitals that provide obstetric care, birth centers, or OB-GYNs. Forced to travel long distances to see their providers, many of these women will forego essential care, leading to worsened health outcomes and ultimately increasing overall healthcare costs.

While access continues to be a leading issue, racial disparities are equally devastating. Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native mothers are two to three times more likely than white mothers to die from childbirth in the U.S., even when holding economic and education levels constant.

What States Can Do to Improve Maternal Health

Despite the prevalence of these poor outcomes, the majority of maternal deaths are preventable. Many states are already taking steps to improve maternal health outcomes, and state legislatures play a vital role in strengthening these efforts. NGA created a report, “The Maternal and Infant Health Governor’s Playbook” which is meant to be a resource for states as they navigate innovation and resources to meet the growing needs of care for mothers and infants.

The playbook outlines 32 policy recommendations that can advance efforts to strengthen maternal and infant health and is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed the nation’s mothers and babies, especially for people of color.

Click here to explore the NGA’s Maternal and Infant Health Governor’s Playbook.