White House Holds First Maternal Health Day of Action
On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris, on behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration, marked its first-ever White House Maternal Health Day of Action, issuing a call to action to public and private sectors to help improve health outcomes for parents and infants in the U.S.
As part of the call of action, the Administration announced a set of new commitments to support safe pregnancies and childbirth and reduce complications and mortality in the year following birth. The Administration announced the following:
- Build Back Better Investments – The Build Back Better Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, includes $3 billion in investments in maternal health, including funding for growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, improving data collection and maternal health risk monitoring, and addressing the social factors contributing to poor maternal health outcomes. The Act would also require all states to provide continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum and spark innovations by allowing state to establish maternal health homes.
- Encourage States to Expand Postpartum Coverage – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance to help states provide 12 months of continuous postpartum coverage, up from the current 60 days. The Administration provided a pathway for states to expand this coverage through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which will be made available in April 2022. California, as part of the 2021 Budget Act, will expand Medi-Cal postpartum coverage for one year, contingent upon necessary federal approvals.
- Report on the Impact of Postpartum Coverage – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) is releasing a new report demonstrating the dramatic impact of state extensions of Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months. According to the Administration, if every state adopted an extension, the number of Americans receiving full coverage for one year postpartum would roughly double, extending coverage to an estimated 720,000 people.
- Create a New Hospital Designation – CMS is also planning to propose the establishment of a “Birthing-Friendly” hospital designation which would be the first HHS designation specifically focused on maternity care. The designation is intended to be awarded to hospitals participating in a collaborative program aimed at improving maternal outcomes and implement patient safety practices.