RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) - Governor Ralph Northam’s Administration introduced a statewide Maternal Health Strategic Plan on Thursday to help eliminate the racial disparities in the Commonwealth’s maternal mortality rate within the next four years.
The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports the maternal mortality rate for Black women is over two times as high as white women in Virginia, as well as nationally.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, Northam signed House Bill 687 during the 2020 General Assembly session, and House Bill 211 and House Bill 1950 from the 2021 special legislative session. These pieces of legislation will help to enhance data collection and address barriers to high-quality maternal health care.
The plan outlines six specific strategies and 21 recommendations to achieve Northam’s goal, according to the press release. These areas include improvements in insurance coverage, health care setting, criminal justice and child welfare response, community-based services, contraception and data collection.
The 21 recommendations include eliminating maternity care deserts by establishing a maternity workforce pipeline inclusive of people of color; ensuring behavioral health access through expanded use of telehealth; and improving access to wrap-around supports such as safe, reliable and affordable housing and transportation.
The goal is to eliminate the disparities by 2025. Northam’s administration partnered with the Virginia Council on Women to unveil the plan.
To read the full press release from Governor Northam’s office, click here.