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On Thursday, May 6, Axios executive editor Sara Kehaulani Goo and health care editor Tina Reed unpacked disparities in maternal health and how policymakers and practitioners are addressing these challenges, featuring Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and March of Dimes president & CEO Stacey D. Stewart.

Rep. Underwood unpacked the goals of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, the bipartisan push for the Momnibus Act, and maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

  • What is driving the U.S.'s mortality rate: "We have this dual crisis, maternal mortality, and morbidity and this disparity that we're seeing among African-American birthing people and to an extent as well, Indigenous birthing people. That's what's driving the United States' overall high maternal mortality rate. In fact, it's the highest in the developed world."
  • On the Momnibus Act: "The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 is a comprehensive suite of 12 bills to address every dimension of the maternal mortality crisis in our country...We are really addressing every dimension, both clinical and nonclinical factors that are impacting maternal mortality and severe morbidity, and really pleased to be able to do it in this bipartisan way."

Stacey D. Stewart discussed disparities in health outcomes and the issue of access across different regions in the U.S.

  • On health outcomes: "What we find is that the health outcomes for moms are really not what they should be in this country, as well as the health outcomes for babies...We have to make sure that every mom and every baby is healthy, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or the zip code in which her family lives."
  • On 'maternity care deserts': "There are counties in this country where there is little to no access to obstetric care, no access in a county to a hospital or obstetric services, to an OBGYN, to even one certified nurse, midwife, or a birthing center...Women who live in these maternity care deserts may have limited access even if they have insurance."

Axios Vice President of Communications Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top Segment with Dr. Janice Huckaby, Chief Medical Officer of Maternal-Child Health at Optum Population Health Services. Huckaby discussed maternal health care, the impact of the pandemic, and policy solutions for challenges in this field.

  • "When it comes to policy, we support coverage for all people in the country. [We] especially would support the extension of prenatal benefits to women for up to a year after they've given birth...We think that if women can have additional health care during that period, we'll probably see a decrease in the number of unplanned pregnancies, but also see women maximize their health before they embark on another pregnancy."

Thank you UnitedHealth Group for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Aug 13, 2021 - Health

Health care's burnout crisis

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Health care workers on the front lines in the fight against COVID are suffering from unprecedented levels of burnout amid the latest surge.

Why it matters: America’s health care workers are already burnt out from previous waves of the pandemic. But as hospitals in hotspots are filling up, and sick COVID patients are once again requiring life-saving care, the stress is being compounded by the battle over public health measures.

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

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