Mike Bloomberg has a plan for tackling the nation’s maternal mortality crisis, with a particular focus on decreasing disparities in maternal health outcomes across the country for communities of color. Mike announced his plan in Montgomery, Alabama, which has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the nation.
In the past 20 years, severe maternal complications have more than doubled and the U.S. maternal mortality rate has risen to highest among affluent countries. Today, nearly 700 women die each year from pregnancy or delivery complications in the United States, and the U.S. is one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality rates are worse than they were two decades ago.
For black women, who disproportionately lack access to affordable, quality health care, the risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher than that of white women. Black women are also twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications and face the brunt of implicit bias in medicine. President Trump has restricted access for women to critical health services, in Alabama as well as nationwide, making the disparities in coverage worse.
Mike’s plan details several initiatives designed to decrease disparities in maternal health outcomes across the country and reduce the disproportionately high maternal mortality rate among women of color, including:
Addressing the racial bias among health care providers
Addressing the racial bias among health care providers – both implicit and explicit – by requiring doctors to have training in understanding and countering implicit bias in medical care.
Standardizing maternal mortality data collection.
To address a lack of reliable data around maternal mortality, Mike’s plan centralizes data collection at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and uses the data to inform and improve standards of health care. The data will be used to establish programs to assist clinicians in identifying high-risk pregnancies.
Providing, free of charge, a public-option insurance plan.
While low-income women can enroll in Medicaid when they become pregnant, in fourteen states, the program covers new mothers for only 60 days postpartum. Mike’s plan would ensure that all low-income women could obtain coverage. He will allow people in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the ASA, who would otherwise be eligible for the expanded program, to enroll in the public-option free of charge. Alabama has not expanded Medicaid, which leaves out 314,000 people from the program.
Boosting funding for medical schools at HBCUs.
His plan also boosts funding for medical schools at historically black colleges and universities to increase the number of people of color in the health-care workforce.
“Incredibly, the United States has the highest infant mortality rate of any developed country,” said Mike Bloomberg. “And disgracefully, the Trump administration’s answer is to undermine women’s access to health insurance and services, which only makes the crisis worse. As president, I will tackle this crisis head-on by improving women’s access to care and services, particularly in areas of the country where governors and legislators are passing laws that are aimed at denying women their rights.”
One goal of Mike’s plan is to better serve the 28 million women of childbearing age living in rural America by encouraging more providers to practice in these areas. Because fewer than half of all rural counties have a practicing obstetrician or gynecologist, and under half of rural counties have hospitals with obstetric units, the plan encourages states to pass laws that allow trained medical professionals to provide more care that is currently limited to a doctor’s scope. This is also aimed at providing better care for more women, especially in rural areas.
His proposal calls for the expansion of the National Health Service Corps, which offers loan repayment and scholarship opportunities for doctors who practice in high-need areas, to also cover medical students from minority communities. And, he will boost funding for medical schools at historically black colleges and universities to increase the number of people of color in the health care workforce.
Finally, the plan re-confirms Mike’s long-standing support for women’s reproductive rights. Mike will work with Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law, guaranteeing legal access to safe abortion in all 50 states. He will also partner with Congress to repeal the Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of incest or rape. In addition, his plan includes a pledge to abolish a new rule put into place by President Trump that bans Title X organizations from providing abortions (even if they are funded separately) and from referring patients to other abortion providers. Abolishing this rule will expand reproductive health care to four million low-income women supported by the Title X National Family Planning, and nearly 17 million more women ages 15-44 who receive Medicaid benefits.
By contrast, President Trump has gone out of his way to restrict access to abortions and restricted access to health insurance and preventive health services. In one of his first actions as president, Trump reinstated and expanded what is known as the “Mexico City Policy,” which requires foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. aid to certify that they will not perform or promote abortion. Not only did this signal to women everywhere his intention to undermine, in every way possible, women’s right to choose, but it foretold a series of actions that Trump has pursued over the past three years.
- In 2003, he adopted the Nurse-Family Partnership model for low-income pregnant moms, and helped grow NYC’s program into the country’s largest.
- New York City’s infant mortality rate fell to historic lows during the Bloomberg Administration, with a nearly 25 percent overall rate decline between 2001 and 2013, more than than the national average.
- In 2012, Bloomberg Philanthropies funded an innovative maternal health program in Tanzania that has impacted at least 50,000 moms and their children over three years.
- In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Planned Parenthood Global to expand access to reproductive health care and reduce maternal death in developing countries.