Biden-Harris Administration Rolls Out Actions to Address Black Maternal Health

During Black Maternal Health Week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of actions to address the maternal health crisis in the U.S. Notably, the Biden-Harris Administration highlighted the disproportionate rates of maternal morbidity and mortality experienced in the U.S. compared to other countries, as well as the fact that black women are roughly two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed a first-ever proclamation marking Black Maternal Health Week. Additionally, to strengthen health equity and address racial disparities in maternal health, the Biden-Harris Administration identified the following actions:

  • Increased Investments in Reducing Maternal Morbidity and Mortality: The President’s recent discretionary funding request includes a series of investments to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, improve health equity, and end race-based disparities throughout the country by:
    • Investing $200 million to implement implicit bias training for health providers, create state pregnancy medical home programs, bolster maternal mortality review committees, expand rural maternal health programs, and assist local governments in placing early childhood development experts in pediatrician offices.
    • Increasing funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by 24 percent to ensure protections of civil rights in health care.
    • Providing $340 million to the Title X Family Planning Program to improve access to vital reproductive and preventive health services and advance gender and health equity.
    • Prioritizing investments in programs that protect rural health care access and expand the pipeline of rural health care providers.
    • Supporting women and children by providing $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help vulnerable families put healthy foods on the table and address racial disparities in maternal and child health outcomes.
  • Approval of the First Medicaid Section 1115 Waiver to Extend Postpartum Coverage: The HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved a Medicaid Section 1115 Waiver in Illinois that allows the state to extend postpartum coverage to Medicaid-eligible women beyond 60 days and up to 12 months. This approval will help ensure access to vital health services, promote better health outcomes, and reduce the rate of maternal morbidity and mortality. Illinois is the first state to extend postpartum coverage to all pregnant persons under Medicaid, and the Biden-Harris Administration invites all states to provide full Medicaid benefits during pregnancy and the extended postpartum period.
  • $12 Million for Maternal Obstetrics Care in Rural Communities: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), at the direction of the Biden-Harris Administration, released a notice of funding opportunity to make available $12 million in new awards for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy’s Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program. RMOMS is designed to develop models and implement strategies that improve access to and continuity of maternal obstetrics care in rural communities. For the first time, RMOMS applicants will be required to focus on populations that have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities, and other inequities.

Additional information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s maternal health actions is available here.