Skip to content

U.S. Ranks Last Among Similar Countries in Maternal Death Rate

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote a letter urging the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee to draw on their individually proposed maternal health bills as the committee develops policy recommendations to expand and improve Medicaid coverage and services for pregnant and post-partum people.
Those bills are:
• Senator Bob Casey’s Improving Coverage and Care for Mother’s Act (S. 3443)
• Senator Cory Booker’s Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services (MOMMIES) Act (S. 1343)
• Senator Dick Durbin’s Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA’s) Act (S. 916)
• Senator Kamala Harris’ Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (S. 3424)
• Senator Kamala Harris’ Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act (S. 1600)

Strengthening access to Medicaid, which pays for more than 40 percent of the births in America, would have a profound and positive impact on maternal health.

“Maternal mortality and morbidity is a problem that plagues America and must be confronted. At 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, the United States ranks last among similarly situated countries. For Black mothers that rate rises to 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. American Indian and Alaskan Native mothers also face their own unique challenges that lead to higher than average maternal mortality rates. This is unacceptable.” The Senators continued, “If done right, this effort can have a truly positive impact and reduce the United States’ dismal maternal mortality and morbidity rate.”

In their letter to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Senators highlighted six main areas for improving maternal health rates through Medicaid services:

  • Access to coverage: Expand Medicaid coverage for at least one year for post-partum care;
  • Access to services: Increase access to services so pregnant people can receive the full range of health care services and not just pregnancy-related care;
  • Enable non-clinical professionals to provide services: Allow providers including doulas, midwives and lactation consultants to provide services and be reimbursed by Medicaid;
  • Reduce racial disparities in maternal health care: Ensure employees in health care settings receive ongoing, evidence-based anti-racism and bias training;
  • Ensure continuity of maternal health demonstrations: Allow states and communities to create local maternal health projects that the federal government can learn from; and
  • Support telehealth: Provide resources to help states implement telehealth services for maternity care—especially for those living in rural or underserved areas.

Read the letter here.