Focus on Equity, Literacy, and Advocacy Needed to Curb Maternal Deaths among Black Women
AmeriHealth Caritas addresses national maternal health disparities that see black mothers three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white mothers
PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The United States has the highest gross domestic product and one of the highest standards of living in the world,1 yet its maternal mortality rate is one of only 13 in the world that is higher than it was 25 years ago.2 The numbers are worse among black women in America, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, while black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants. What’s more, these disparities transcend income and level of education.3
“Infant and maternity mortality rates are regarded as measures of the health of a society. The racial and ethnic disparities in our current rates reflect longstanding biases that challenge our very basic capacity to offer fair and ethical health care,” said Dr. Lenaye Lawyer, an OB-GYN and one of the market chief medical officers for AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health care solutions for those most in need. “The provider community should be aware of these disparities and recommendations for reducing them.”
Health care providers establishing a “culture of equity,” including implementing quality improvement projects that target disparities in health care outcomes, access, and treatment.
Providers establishing systems and staff-wide education programs for collecting race, ethnicity, and language data, and how to use that information to improve patient care.
Health care providers training staff on racial and ethnic disparities and their root causes, as well as implicit bias.
Engaging in shared decision making between providers, patients, and family members.
Dr. Lily Higgins, another AmeriHealth Caritas market chief medical officer, added that improving health literacy and self-advocacy skills can also help more black women have healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and babies.
“If the health care system can foster a culture of health equity, literacy, and advocacy, we will take a big step towards eliminating maternal health disparities in this country,” said Dr. Higgins.
About AmeriHealth Caritas
AmeriHealth Caritas is one of the nation’s leaders in health care solutions for those most in need. Operating in 11 states and the District of Columbia, AmeriHealth Caritas serves more than 5 million Medicaid, Medicare, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and specialty pharmacy services, and behavioral health services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. AmeriHealth Caritas is part of the Independence Health Group in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more information, visit www.amerihealthcaritas.com.