ICYMI: HHS Actions to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes

1 year ago

This week, on December 7, 2021, the White House hosted the first-ever Maternal Health Day of Action with a nationwide call-to-action to address maternal mortality and morbidity. Watch the White House Maternal Health Call to Action Summit and read Secretary Xavier Becerra’s remarks.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new report and made a number of announcements on policy changes and investments to support safe pregnancies and reduce health disparities across the nation. Please find a listing of these efforts below:

Propose the establishment of A proposal to identify “Birthing-Friendly” hospitals designation

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it plans to establish a national “Birthing-Friendly” hospital designation to drive improvements in perinatal health outcomes and maternal health equity.
  • CMS will designate hospitals that participate in a quality improvement collaborative aimed at improving maternal outcomes and implement patient safety practices.
  • To promote transparency, CMS would display the designations on the “Care Compare” website, based on data reported by hospitals on a new maternal morbidity structural quality measure under the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program.

Guidance on Medicaid postpartum coverage to state health officials

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on states’ implementation of a new state plan option established by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which will allow states to provide 12 months of extended postpartum coverage to pregnant individuals enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, beginning April 1, 2022.
  • Many pregnant individuals qualify for Medicaid on the basis of their pregnancy. Under current law, pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries are eligible under the state plan for at least pregnancy-related services through the end of the month in which the 60-day period, beginning on the last day of pregnancy, ends.
  • In states that elect the 12-month extended postpartum coverage option, beneficiaries who are eligible for and enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP while pregnant are eligible for continuous coverage for the duration of the extended postpartum period. 

New study estimates 720,000 more people could gain full-year postpartum coverage with state action

  • The Office of Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a new report that shows if all states extended pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility to 12 months postpartum, the proportion of pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries who would remain eligible for the full postpartum year would increase from 52 percent to 100 percent, representing approximately 720,000 people annually with expanded coverage.
  • The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included a state option to extend pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility up to 12 months postpartum, compared to the current 60 days in most states. Seven states have approved or pending 1115 demonstrations to do so, and current federal legislative proposals could extend Medicaid postpartum coverage nationwide.

$82 Million to Expand Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program

  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $82 million in ARP emergency home visiting funds to 56 states, jurisdictions, and nonprofit organizations to support children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This funding builds upon an initial investment of $40 million in ARP funds to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.
  • The additional funds will support the needs of expectant parents and families with young children living in communities at risk for poor maternal and child health outcomes.

Announcing winners of NIH Decoding Maternal Morbidity Data Challenge

  • The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) announced the winners of its Decoding Maternal Morbidity Data Challenge, with twelve prizes totaling $400,000, five of which specifically addressed maternal health disparities.
  • The challenge sought innovative approaches to identifying risk factors for complications in first-time pregnancies. Without a prior pregnancy for comparison, it is difficult to identify risks for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Early detection of these risks can help reduce pregnancy complications and prevent maternal deaths.
  • The winners developed algorithms to analyze a large set of participant data from the NICHD-funded Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-Be (nuMoM2b), a racially, ethnically and geographically diverse sample of people who are pregnant for the first time and accurately flagged cases that were high risk for complications.

$1 Million in Prizes Announced for NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge (NTAC) for Maternal Health

  • The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) announced its second NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge (NTAC), focused on improving maternal health through innovation in the diagnosis of complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth, which result in the deaths of more than 800 women and 7,000 newborns around the world each day.
  • The 2021 Challenge seeks to spur and reward the development of new diagnostics to detect and differentiate common maternal health conditions including hemorrhage, hypertensive disease, infections, and placental issues.
  • A central goal of the Challenge is to accelerate the full development of these innovative diagnostic products for practical use in low-resource settings.

Announcing Winners of Hypertension Innovator Award Competition Phase 1

  • The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has announced winners of a national competition to identify effective, pre-existing programs that care for people with hypertension where the programs could be or are already applied to hypertension during pregnancy and/or postpartum.
  • The goal of this innovative competition is to demonstrate sustainability and the ability to replicate and/or expand a program that provides effective monitoring and follow-up of hypertension during pregnancy and/or postpartum.

Deadline Extended: Racial Equity in Postpartum Care Challenge

  • The Office on Women’s Health (OWH), in partnership with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), extended the deadline of a national competition it is hosting to identify effective programs that can address equity of postpartum care for Black or African American and American Indian/Alaskan Native beneficiaries enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP.
  • The competition is comprised of two phases: 1) identify effective programs that can successfully increase access to, attendance at, and quality of care for postpartum visits for Black or African American and AI/AN beneficiaries enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP; 2) evaluate whether the program was successfully replicated and/or expanded.
  • The deadline has been extended for phase 1 to January 31, 2022, to provide more time for submissions.

Read about Initial External Contributions in Response to Vice President Kamala Harris’s Call to Action to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity.

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