The federal government must do more to address maternal health outcomes, specifically among Black women, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, said this weekend. [Health News Illinois]
The lawmakers and officials from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration participated in a roundtable discussion in Chicago on maternal health disparities and ways to provide resources and support for women at risk.
Kelly noted that Illinois has taken several steps to address the issue, including extending the Medicaid postpartum period to a full year, but “there is so much more that needs to be done.”
“In the richest country in the world, it is unacceptable that the United States continues to fail moms and babies,” she said. “Black and Native women, especially, are most likely to die from pregnancy-related complications because of systemic racism.”
Kelly noted Congress has passed several proposals to address the matter, including one that tasks the Department of Health and Human Services with identifying, developing and disseminating best practices to improve maternal healthcare.
A report earlier this month from the Department of Public Health found Black Illinois women continue to die at disparately higher rates from medical causes, while substance use disorder is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death.
“This isn’t some Catch-22," Duckworth said. "There are real — and easy-to-implement — solutions, and I’m going to keep pushing on the federal level to help end this crisis once and for all."
The senator reintroduced a plan last week to grant paid leave to individuals who have experienced pregnancy loss.
The Health Resources and Services Administration has held events across the country in the past month to raise awareness of the issue.
"We stand with the families of Chicago and are committed to the work of supporting safer pregnancies, eliminating health disparities and helping families to thrive,” agency Administrator Carole Johnson said in a statement.