Maternal Health: “We can — and will — do better.”

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2022

When it comes to America’s worsening maternal health crisis, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking decisive steps to reverse the trend­­—and is asking all healthcare stakeholders to increase their involvement.

In an effort to address systemic inequities across the U.S., CMS, in late July, outlined its action plan to improve maternal health outcomes. The plan, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, takes a holistic, coordinated approach to reducing disparities for people during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure encouraged health care facilities, insurance companies, state officials, and healthcare providers to consider what commitments the private sector can make to help improve maternal health outcomes.

“Enough is enough. We can – and will – do better,” commented Brooks-LaSure. “CMS will use every available lever to support people during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, and advance health equity across the country.”

Additionally, CMS approved new actions in Connecticut, Kansas, and Massachusetts to extend Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for 12 months after pregnancy. As many as 19,000 people annually in these states will have access to Medicaid or CHIP coverage for an entire year after pregnancy. This extension is part of the American Rescue Plan, and three states join  California; Florida; Illinois; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; New Jersey; New Mexico; Oregon; South Carolina; Tennessee; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Washington state in extending coverage from 60 days to a full 12 months after pregnancy.

As a result, more new mothers—and their babies—will be eligible for meal benefits to boost their intake of nutritious food.

Good nutrition plays a crucial role in maternal wellness—both before and after delivery. But with an increasing number of Americans challenged with food insecurity, lack of access to healthy foods and poor dietary habits continue to contribute to negative maternal health outcomes. Many health plans partner with Mom’s Meals® to enroll their pregnant members in a meal-delivery program to ensure they have regular, easy access to the nutrient-rich foods that support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period. Mom’s Meals offers a range of options for pregnant women and new mothers managing chronic conditions including diabetes-friendly, renal-friendly, heart-friendly, lower sodium, and other meals.

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