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How the New Federal Maternal Health Blueprint Will Help Moms


In the greater conversation around maternal health, one notable fact is repeatedly brought up: Women in the U.S. are dying from pregnancy-related causes at an alarming rate, especially when compared to other developed countries. There were 23.8 deaths among American women for every 100,000 live births in 2020, per the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — and that’s an increase from the 20.1 documented in 2019.

The maternal health crisis also disproportionately impacts Black women — who have an unconscionable maternal mortality rate of 55.3 per 100,000 — as well as those who live in rural areas.

Now, the White House has a plan to try to do something about it. On June 24, the Biden administration released its Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. This plan details five priorities the administration has for improving maternal health in the U.S., along with different actions that officials plan to take to create improvements in maternal health care. Those priorities include:

  • Increasing access to and coverage of high-quality maternal health services, including behavioral health services
  • Ensuring women giving birth are heard and are decision makers in accountable systems of care
  • Advancing data collection, standardization, transparency and research
  • Expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce
  • Strengthening economic and social supports for people before, during and after pregnancy

The blueprint is “taking the next step towards a future where the United States will be the best country in the world to have a baby,” according to a fact sheet released along with the plan. The fact sheet also vows that the administration will take “bold action to confront the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis.”

There’s a lot to wade through with the blueprint — it outlines 50 different actions to help the maternal health crisis, after all. Here are the highlights to know, plus how officials plan to make your health and the health of other expectant and new moms even better. 

More postpartum coverage

The blueprint is encouraging states to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year postpartum, so that women won’t lose their coverage or have changes in their coverage soon after they give birth.

More funding for rural maternal care

The administration plans to give rural health care facilities funds for more staff and better maternal care by expanding the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program. Rural health care providers will also get “more robust training,” the blueprint says. 

Expanded access to a new maternal mental health hotline

Women will have access to a confidential, 24-hour, toll-free hotline if they’re having mental health challenges during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Launched this spring, the number for the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746). 

More services to treat substance use disorders

Federal agencies will work with community-based organizations to make people trained in substance use disorders during pregnancy more available.

Protection from unexpected medical bills

The No Surprises Act helps protect women from certain unexpected medical bills that can pop up during pregnancy, postpartum care and delivery.

Better training around biases and culture awareness

The blueprint promises to train more health care providers on implicit biases as well as “culturally and linguistically appropriate care, so that more women are listened to, respected, and empowered as a decision maker in their own care.”

Better data on maternal health

Researchers will have access to better data so they can analyze poor outcomes during pregnancy and make changes to support healthy pregnancies.

More options for maternal care

Federal agencies will invest in hiring, training and deploying more physicians, certified nurse midwives, doulas and community health workers to support women during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. The government will strive to have providers from diverse communities and backgrounds, and will work with states to expand access to doulas and midwives. Insurance companies will be encouraged to support these services. 

Expanded social services

The government plans to make it easier to enroll in federal programs for housing, food, child care and income assistance for expectant and new moms.

Better protection for moms in the workplace

Government agencies plan to promote a “greater awareness” of workplace protections and accommodations for new parents, like access to a private lactation room and break time to pump, the blueprint says.





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