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Democratic Members of Illinois Congressional Delegation Press Gov. Rauner on Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Illinois

Mother and baby
(Source: Show and Tell)

In Illinois, black women have 3.5 times higher maternal mortality rates than white women and black infants have nearly three times higher mortality rates than white infants

By: James Lewis

U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), along with U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), and Bill Foster (D-IL-11), today pressed Governor Bruce Rauner on what steps his Administration is currently taking—or plans to take—to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Illinois, as well as to reduce the stark racial disparities.

The United States is one of only 13 developed countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality—the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth either during pregnancy or up to a year after the end of the pregnancy—is worse today than it was 25 years ago.  Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 women nationwide now die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, with black women significantly more likely than white women to die from pregnancy related causes. In 2016, Illinois had more than 150,000 births, with 72 pregnancy-associated maternal deaths and 985 infant deaths. In Illinois, black women have 3.5 times higher mortality rates than white women and black infants have nearly 3 times higher mortality rates than white infants—far worse than the national average.

“The United States is one of the very few developed countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are increasing—and there is a greater racial gap in infant mortality rates today than there was during slavery in America.  This is simultaneously unacceptable and heart-breaking,” the members wrote.  “More must be done to help women and infants across Illinois—especially black mothers and babies—and we look forward to hearing what your Administration plans to do to assist in these efforts.”

Today’s letter, from members of the Illinois delegation, requests information regarding what steps the Rauner Administration is taking to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Illinois and reduce the stark racial disparities.  The letter asks for information regarding what services are currently, or should be, covered by Illinois’ Medicaid and private insurance plans with respect to maternity and newborn care, and seeks to get commitment from the Governor that, despite President Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act’s important consumer protections, he will ensure that all health plans in Illinois are required to cover health care services vital to new families.  Finally, the letter asks for more information on how Illinois is, or plans to, better tackle implicit bias in medical care for minority women and babies.

Full text of the letter is available here.

Source: www.robinkelly.house.gov



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