Mothers’ Lives in the Balance: Organizations Urge Lawmakers to Act
Organizations across Mississippi are advocating for the Mississippi Legislature to extend postpartum healthcare coverage to save the lives of Mississippi mothers. Forty-eight organizations are calling on the House Medicaid Committee Chair, Rep. Joey Hood (R-Ackerman) to take up Senate Bill 2033, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven) to extend Medicaid postpartum care from 60 days to one year after giving birth and to allocate the funds necessary to give mothers lifesaving care during a critical time in their lives and the lives of their families. Organizations asking lawmakers to support policies to improve maternal health include: The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects, The American Heart Association, The Mississippi Kidney Foundation, ACLU Mississippi, Coastal Family Health Center, Mississippi State Conference of NAACP, One Voice, Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, Magnolia Medical Foundation, SPLC Action Fund, Six Dimensions, LLC, Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Women for Progress, Black Women Vote Coalition, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Mississippi Urban League, and Mississippi Section, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, S.T.A.N.D Coalition Founding Organizations: Alpha Kapp Alpha, Beta Delta Omega, Inc., American Association of University Women: MS, Jackson, Starkville, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc, Mary Church Terrell Literary Club, Nation Council of Negro Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Rho Lambda Omega, Jackson Chapter Links, Inc, Jackson Chapter of Black Social Workers, MS Federation of Democratic Women, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc, Jackson Alumnae, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc Central MS, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Beta Delta Omega, Inc., LeFleur Bluff Chapter, Links Inc. and the S.T.A.N.D Advisory Resource groups: Children’s Defense Fund, Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, Commission on the Status of Women, MSU, Parents for Public Schools, MS Association for Justice, MS Center for Educational Innovation, MS Association of Community & Junior Colleges, MS Association of Black School Educators, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Clinics, and Hinds County Federation of Democratic Women, and the R.E.C.H Foundation, Mississippi Center for Justice, and the National Association of Social Workers Mississippi Chapter. These organizations will bring attention to this issue through a virtual town hall, free and open to the public, on February 24, 2022, from 11:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
“The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects is dedicated to reproductive justice and a mother’s right to a healthy, happy start for herself and her children. We fully support the passing of Senate Bill 2033. Supporting this measure ensures Black women we so deeply care for and fight alongside are receiving the protection and nurture they deserve,” said, Natalie A. Collier, founder, and president of the Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects.
“Mothers across our state are dying during and after childbirth at an alarming rate,” said Angela Grayson, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator with The Lighthouse | Black Girls Projects. “Nearly 70 percent of pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. Access to medical care is imperative to improve health outcomes for moms, and I am glad we’re bringing this reality to the forefront of policy discussions this session.”
Health experts recommend extending Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months post delivery because continuous access to healthcare reduces the prevalence of pregnancy-related deaths. In Mississippi, 86% of maternal deaths occur postpartum. The national maternal death rate is 17.4 per 100,000 births. However, Black women in Mississippi are experiencing maternal death at a much greater rate: 51.9 per 100,0000 births. Health issues facing new mothers include blood clots, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and many other preventable conditions with access to continuous healthcare available.
“Cardiovascular conditions are the leading cause of death up to six months postpartum. With 61% of all births in Mississippi covered by Medicaid, not having access to continuous healthcare more than 60 days after delivery for mothers is very literally life and death,” said Kathryn Rehner-Sullivan, Mississippi government relations director for the American Heart Association. “Senator Blackwell’s bill will provide mothers with the care they need to live long healthy lives.”
“Access to health care is important in all stages of pregnancy, but especially in the 4th trimester and beyond” said Jackson resident and Black Women Vote Coalition member Dr. Pam Scott “As a social worker and a mother, I know firsthand that health care can help with post-partum depression and decrease the risk of neglect and potential abuse. Senate Bill 2033 would expand health care access for mothers, giving them the opportunity to live long, healthy lives for themselves and their families.”
If you are interested in joining the virtual town hall on February 24, 2022, at 11:30a.m., the event is free and open to the public. You can register for the virtual town hall at https://fcgworks.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GbNYeqXYSG-S_V1GDtM6zw