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Maternal Health Policy Salon Brings Experts to D.C. Leaders

On February 22, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) partnered with AcademyHealth to host a closed-door virtual policy discussion on maternal health priorities for 2021. The Policy Salon brought together bipartisan and bicameral senior Hill staff, key Administration officials, and top research experts in the field for a discussion to spur evidence-based legislative work. The goal is for the conversation to lead to consensus building on the most pressing health system issues facing the nation today. 

AcademyHealth President and CEO Lisa Simpson and JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein welcomed the attendees and introduced the expert speakers:

Joia Adele Crear-Perry, MD, FACOG, Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative

Katy Kozhimannil, PhD., MPA, Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Erika Cottrell, PhD, MPP, Investigator at OCHIN, Assistant Professor at Oregon Health and Science University, and Director of the Health Experiences Research Core for the Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute

The conversation focused on issues of maternal mortality rates during COVID-19, especially among women of color, and highlighted the best and latest evidence from health services research combined with models of success and possible policy solutions to provide better maternal care. Dr. Crear-Perry recommended strategies to address racism and existing barriers in health care for women of color that could reshape maternal mortality rates. Dr. Cottrell suggested investments in the first year of postpartum care that takes place outside of hospitals (particularly at Federally Qualified Health Centers) and emphasized the importance of a diversified perinatal workforce. Dr. Kozhimannil echoed the critical need to address health disparities and social determinants of health with policy, including extending Medicaid to one-year postpartum, improving inequities reporting, paying for doula care and midwifery services, and ensuring internet access for rural communities.

JHF has championed many of these policy solutions that could inform a more comprehensive approach to pregnancy and postpartum care, such as the increased role of midwives, doulas, and perinatal community health workers, and increasing enrollment in state WIC Programs.

A discussion followed between the speakers and attendees that focused on implementing implicit bias trainings in the community, addressing social determinants of health, improving data collection, supporting community health centers, creating payment bundles to support the care needed in postpartum, and more.

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