Women in the United States die during or shortly after childbirth at the highest rates of any developed country. Prodded by recent data showing that the nation’s maternal mortality rate is on the rise — as well as evidence of stark racial disparities in the risks U.S. women face in childbirth — policymakers are beginning to take steps to address this deeply rooted, multifaceted problem.
The Commonwealth Fund has long sought to draw attention to inequities in U.S. health care, including those affecting women. Over the coming months and years, the Fund will be ramping up its efforts to expand women’s access to health care and improve outcomes, especially for poor women, women of color, and others who fall into the health system’s gaps.
Leveraging Medicaid. With 13 million more U.S. women eligible for Medicaid because of the expansion in eligibility, the coverage program for people with low incomes is increasingly the locus of solutions to the maternal mortality crisis. For example, there is considerable evidence underpinning the efforts of a number of states to use Medicaid coverage to support group prenatal care, doula support, home visiting, birthing centers, and maternity care “bundles.” The Commonwealth Fund will be helping to lead next steps to synthesize this evidence in support of specific policies and programs that can be implemented by policymakers, system leaders, and payers nationwide.
Spreading Innovations. The Fund is also seeking to highlight and bring to scale innovative programs at the state and national level that focus on performance measurement in maternal care and alternative payment approaches that are linked to improved efficiency and health outcomes.
Integral to all this work is understanding how social determinants of health, systemic bias, and racism affect women’s health and identifying ways to overcome these obstacles.
We invite you to explore the Commonwealth Fund’s resources on maternal health and to send us your ideas.