• The AAFP Applauds Vice President Harris for Prioritizing Maternal Health

    Tuesday, December 7, 2021

    Statement attributable to:
    Sterling Ransone, Jr., MD
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds Vice President Kamala Harris’s call to action to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Today’s Maternal Day of Action is a positive step toward addressing the stark disparities and inequities in maternal health. Family physicians are trained to provide maternity care and primary care throughout a patient's lifespan—they are central and committed to improving maternal health outcomes, birth equity and ensuring birthing people get the care they need.

    “The United States has some of the worst maternal health outcomes in the developed world, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these conditions. The rates of maternal mortality and morbidity among Black and Native American birthing people are especially alarming. The AAFP commends the Administration for taking evidence-based steps to address maternal health inequities, including by extending postpartum Medicaid coverage, calling for the passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus in the Build Back Better Act, and advancing high-quality, safe hospital care for birthing people.

    “The AAFP is especially pleased that the Administration has encouraged states to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from only 60 days to 12 months postpartum. The AAFP has long advocated to extend postpartum coverage, which would help ensure access to continuous care and mitigate disparities in maternal health outcomes. We are pleased the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released new guidance so that states can begin implementing this option.

    “New data published by the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that if every state extended postpartum Medicaid coverage, 720,000 postpartum people would benefit from 12 months of continuous coverage each year. That’s why the AAFP supports the mandatory postpartum coverage extension in the Build Back Better Act. We urge the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act to make these much-needed changes a reality for Americans.

    “The announcement allowing states to establish maternal health homes is welcome news for family physicians. The Academy supported the CMS Innovation Center’s Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative, which tested this intervention and showed promising improvements in health outcomes. The AAFP believes that patient-centered medical homes allow for continuous, coordinated primary care and can optimize patient health.

    “Today’s announcements will help ensure patients can receive comprehensive care throughout the perinatal period, as well as facilitate their transition to longitudinal primary care. The AAFP commends Vice President Harris for her efforts to improve equitable access to maternal health services. We also appreciate the work of the Congressional Black Maternal Health Caucus to raise awareness about the maternal health crisis in our country.”

    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Ransone, contact Julie Hirschhorn, 202-655-4949, or jhirschhorn@aafp.org.

    # # #

    About American Academy of Family Physicians
    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the specialty of family medicine and the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, visit www.aafp.org. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.