ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: Maternal mortality a major problem

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(Jeffersonville & New Albany) News and Tribune

On average, two women died in the United States each day in 2020 from causes related to childbirth. Hoosier mothers, especially those struggling financially, are dying from what experts say are preventable causes.

In a November release, the Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Committee reported that 60 Hoosier women died in 2019 during pregnancy or within a year after giving birth. The study found that 80% of those deaths were preventable. It blamed shortfalls in Indiana’s system of care related to substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence.

Overwhelmingly, the report showed that impoverished women are the most in danger. Medical care and treatment can be expensive, and mothers who are struggling financially are less likely to seek needed medical care. Those suffering the most often find it the most difficult to reach out for help, and a lack of services makes the problem worse.

Thanks to recent changes in state law, Medicaid coverage has been expanded to pregnant women whose family income is at or below 208% of the federal poverty level. Qualifying mothers can receive coverage for up to a year after giving birth under the new regulations.

The expanded Medicaid provision means that women who face financial barriers have an avenue to find help. It’s a needed change, but it’s just a start.

In an interview with CNHI Statehouse Reporter Whitney Downard, state Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) suggested more support and outreach programs for mothers both before and after giving birth.

But as Summers emphasized, addressing substance abuse and mental health are the chief concerns. We need more resources, especially for low-income mothers. It’s not just a matter of saving the life of the mother, but the life of the child.

Unfortunately, the problem seems to be getting worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 861 women in the United States were identified as having died from causes related to childbirth. in 2020. That number was up from 754 deaths in 2019.

According to a 2020 study by The Commonwealth Fund., our nation’s maternal mortality rate was worse than those of 11 developed countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

The rate at which these new mothers are dying is unacceptable. Expanding Medicaid coverage was a good start. We also need a better system to care for mothers during pregnancy and in the crucial months after they give birth

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