2021 Hero CapHillBrief MaternalHealth Maternal and Infant Health

Briefing with the Blues: Reducing disparities in maternal health by 50 percent

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) recently hosted a virtual Capitol Hill Briefing on our National Health Equity Strategy and findings from our recent Health of America report confirming severe racial disparities in maternal health. The event, which featured a panel of experts, examined how institutional bias and systematic racism have led to drastic and worsening disparities and inequities. For pregnant women, our research shows across all age groups, irrespective of education or income level, the rate of Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM)—unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery resulting in significant short- or long-term health consequences—is higher for Black and Hispanic communities compared to white ones.

At the briefing, BCBSA Executive Vice President Sean Robbins outlined key findings from the report, and BCBSA Senior Vice President Justine Handelman moderated an expert panel featuring: Dr. Rahul Gupta, senior vice president and chief medical and health officer at the March of Dimes; Bridget Hurd, VP of diversity & inclusion at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; and Dr. Deborah Smith, medical director, medical affairs at BCBSA.

Watch the full briefing here.

Here are a few key takeaways:

1. Race-based disparities in maternal health are complex, and we cannot fix what we cannot measure.

2. These disparities didn’t happen overnight and will not be fixed without long-term effort and commitment. No one group can do it alone; partnerships are vital and necessary.

3. Listening to women as well as providing trustworthy, respectful, evidence-based interventions can improve outcomes.

Additional Resource:

Read thoughts from BCBSA CEO Kim Keck in an Aspen Ideas blog on improving maternal health by addressing health equity in health care.


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