As part of a statewide effort to address disparities in maternal mortality rates between African-American and white women, and to reverse the trend that ranks New Jersey 47th among the states in maternal mortality with 37.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, a maternal health package introduced last month continues to advance in the Assembly with 16 measures clearing the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.
The measures focus on improving maternal health care in the state and addressing the disparities that show African-American women at a higher risk of dying from pregnancy complications than white women. From 2011-2014, the CDC found alarming racial disparities in maternal infant mortality deaths nationwide: 12.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women compared to a staggering 40 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women.
Expanding Medicaid coverage, revamping policies at general hospitals, evaluating the state’s current maternal educational efforts and conducting surveys that can provide key insight as to women’s perceptions on these efforts are among the bills in the maternal health package that were advanced today.
The sponsors note that these bills seek a collaborative effort between a broad of array of stakeholders–mothers, fathers, health professionals, medical educators and experts, legislators, health agencies, community advocates and others–to help women have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
Comprehensive, resource-driven and action-oriented, the maternal health measures cover a wide array of issues and include:
Vainieri Huttle Establishes maternal health care pilot program to evaluate shared decision-making tool developed by DOH and used by hospitals providing maternity services, and by birthing centers.
Requires DOH to identify and take appropriate steps to secure federal sources of funding to support maternal mental health.
Requires DOH to establish “My Life, My Plan” program to support women of childbearing age in developing reproductive life plan.
Lopez/Wimberly/Lampitt Requires DOH to develop interconception care resources to enhance postpartum care for women.
Directs DOH to develop standardized perinatal health curriculum for community health workers.
Requires Commissioner of Health to establish maternity care public health campaign.
Codifies current requirements regarding completion of Perinatal Risk Assessment form by certain Medicaid health care providers.
Requires Medicaid coverage for group prenatal care services under certain circumstances.
Requires New Jersey Office on Minority and Multicultural Health to study racial and ethnic disparities on sexual and reproductive health of African-American women.
Requires hospital emergency departments to ask women of childbearing age about recent pregnancy history.
Timberlake Establishes training protocols and treatment guidelines for general hospitals providing maternity care.
Vainieri Huttle Requires DOH to establish maternity care evaluation protocols and maternity care evaluation database.
Benson Establishes perinatal episode of care pilot program in Medicaid.
Vainieri Huttle “Listening to Mothers Survey Act”; requires DOH to establish survey to evaluate and improve maternity care access and services.
(pending referral) Encourages DOH to develop set of standards for respectful care at birth and to conduct public outreach initiative.
(pending referral) Urges CDC to adopt uniform data system to collect information on maternal mortality.
The measures now head to the full Assembly for a floor vote on March 25.