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Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Press Call on Improving Maternal Health Outcomes

By: White House: Office of the Vice President 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Gene Sperling.  Thank you, and for your extraordinary longstanding service to our country, including the work that you have been doing to ensure the — the speedy and effective and meaningful implementation of the ARP.  So, thank you for that.

I do believe our nation is facing a maternal mortality crisis, given the extent of the work that we as an administration have been doing with our partners.  And — and it is evidenced by the fact that women in our nation are dying from pregnancy-related causes at a higher rate than any other developed nation — dying before, during, and after childbirth.

Black women are three times more likely to be affected by this and to die from childbirth-related causes.  Native women, twice as likely.  Rural women, one and a half times likely.

So, our administration has taken historic action to elevate this issue and protect the women of our nation. It’s that simple.

Last year, we hosted the first-ever White House Maternal Health Day of Action.  And this year, I was pleased to bring together members of our Cabinet to focus on the issue of maternal health, which followed, as Gene mentioned, a Call to Action to states to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum women from 2 months — from a mere 2 months — to 12 months. 

And notably, the ARP gives — and gives the states the authority to do this.  So, again, the connection between this initiative and the details of the ARP and its implementation have made all the difference.  And it matters because, of course, Medicaid covers approximately 40 percent of all births nationwide, and one third of pregnancy-related deaths occur between one and a half months and one year postpartum.

Throughout my career, as Gene has said, I do believe that one of the greatest priorities for us in public policy must be the health, safety, and wellbeing of women, including maternal health.  And so, today, we are proud to announce that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Service — and Medicare Services will expand coverage and approve the expansion of coverage in the states of Maine, Minnesota, in New York [New Mexico], and in Washington, D.C.

What this means is that 235,000 women will now have access to 12 months of critical postpartum coverage across 14 states and D.C.  This means that 12 months of pelvic exams, vaccinations, postpartum depression screening, and regular checkups will be available to those women.

And I think I said New Mexico and I cer- — I — New York — and I certainly meant New Mexico — (laughs) — so I’ll go back to that. 

But what it also means is that the states now, under the leadership of extraordinary leaders — like Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan — can take the step forward and do what we know the women of America need and deserve, which is to have assistance and to have some recognition about what the realities of this are and what their needs are.
This is only the beginning.  Our administration will continue to fight until every state has expanded Medicaid coverage.  And to be clear, this is about prioritizing the right all women in our nation should have to full reproductive healthcare.

That is what this is about.  It is about understanding how all women in our nation, regardless of their income, regardless of where they live, should have access to full reproductive healthcare.

So, together, of course, we are going to continue to work with our partners at the state level, at the local level, our community-based and nonprofit folks to ensure that every woman, every mother has the healthcare she needs to thrive.

And with that, I’ll turn it back over to the team.  And — and thank you all.

END                 10:15 A.M. EDT                               

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