Children’s Action Alliance — AZ lawmakers can reduce maternal mortality

| October 12, 2021

Despite being the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States is facing a growing crisis of maternal mortality and morbidity. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) birth parents are dying during or within a year after pregnancy at an alarming – and rising – rate. Research shows this isn’t due to a lack of education or understanding among parents, but that it is tied to systemic discrimination and insufficient access to care. For low-income and BIPOC parents – particularly those who are uninsured, underinsured, undocumented, or otherwise underrepresented in health care – the link between access to affordable care and pregnancy-related death is clear.  

While small sample sizes make it hard to analyze state-level data, a recent AZ Department of Health Services maternal mortality review report and a new study by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families layout key facts about pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity. Though Medicaid Expansion helped many Arizonans find affordable, high-quality health coverage, a disproportionate number of BIPOC people of childbearing age are likely eligible for coverage but uninsured. Indigenous Arizonans are almost four times as likely, Black Arizonans nearly twice as likely, and Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, and uninsured Arizonans more than 1.5 times as likely to die during or after pregnancy.  

Our state and federal lawmakers can take action to correct these disparities and save lives. The Build Back Better bill package circulating through the U.S. House of Representatives includes a requirement that state Medicaid programs cover people for a full year after the end of pregnancy. Arizona currently offers just 60 days of postpartum coverage. It also invests in diversifying the birth workforce, reducing bias among health care providers, and ensuring that new parents have the support they need to form healthy families. Together, these measures will promote birth equity and access to pregnancy care. The work doesn’t end there –  our state policymakers and the Governor will need to prioritize this effort in the 2022 legislative session.



Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare, Education, Programs, Resources

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