Yesterday (March 12), Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the release of the New York State Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes (Taskforce) report and recommendations. He also committed to the $8 million investment in his proposed Executive Budget to implement the recommendations-which both the State Assembly and Senate supported in their respective one-house budgets.
The Taskforce’s recommendations, which are included in the Governor’s 2019 Women’s Agenda, build on the multipronged initiative the Governor announced last April to target maternal mortality. While there has been a reduction in maternal mortality rates over the past eight years, black women in New York are still two to three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. The Taskforce’s recommendations aim to improve maternal outcomes, address racial and economic disparities, and reduce the frequency of maternal mortality and morbidity in New York.
GNYHA participated in the Taskforce, which launched last April, along with the New York State Department of Health (DOH), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and other stakeholders as part of a multi-pronged effort to reduce maternal mortality and racial disparities. Taskforce members submitted recommendations to the Governor on ways to reduce racial disparities and preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, and accepted the following 10 recommendations for implementation:
- Establish a statewide maternal mortality review board in statute
- Design and implement a comprehensive training and education program for hospitals on implicit racial bias
- Establish a comprehensive data warehouse on perinatal outcomes to improve quality
- Provide equitable reimbursement to midwives
- Expand and enhance community health worker services in New York State
- Create a State University of New York scholarship program for midwives to address needed diversity
- Create competency-based curricula for providers and medical and nursing schools
- Establish an educational loan forgiveness program for providers who are underrepresented in medicine and who intend to practice women’s health care services
- Convene a statewide expert workgroup to optimize postpartum care in New York State
- Promote universal birth preparedness and postpartum continuity of care
During the Taskforce’s deliberations, State and national experts and community stakeholders discussed the national maternal mortality landscape and compared it to maternal mortality in New York State, and detailed the impact of racism on maternal health outcomes among black women. The Taskforce concluded that direct engagement by community organizations as well as hospitals and providers was critical to the selection of the final Taskforce recommendations.
GNYHA will continue to actively engage with DOH, ACOG, and others to support the implementation of the Taskforce’s recommendations.