Press Release
Reversing the Maternal Health Crisis: A Roadmap for Healthcare Systems

New Resource Outlines Tools for Raising the Bar for Maternal Health Equity and Excellence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 22, 2023 – Our nation’s maternal mortality crisis and the staggering impact on Black and Brown communities are well documented. A new suite of resources, Raising the Bar for Maternal Health Equity and Excellence, authored by the National Partnership for Women & Families, working with a renowned advisory panel and the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), the Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF) and the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), offers practical solutions designed for healthcare systems ranging from independent women’s health clinics to large hospital systems.

These resources are grounded in a deep understanding that the healthcare sector plays many roles beyond that of provider – as an employer, a community partner, and a policy advocate, each of which shapes maternal health. These tools offer guidance on specific actions for each role to improve maternal health outcomes and advance equity—ranging from how you provide care, to building a better workforce, working with community partners, and advocating for policies to make it possible.

Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, hailed the resource as a transformational tool that is urgently needed. Frye said, “We know that Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, and we also know the causes are rooted in persistent and systemic biases. By breaking down the different roles and adapting the guidance for institutions of every size, we’re acknowledging not only the depth and complexity of the maternal health crisis but also the breadth of community engagement that will be required to address the crisis successfully.”

Raising the Bar for Maternal Health Equity and Excellence is the second phase of a multi-year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project. Raising the Bar’s first phase produced a framework that crafted specific principles, roles and actions that healthcare organizations can use to begin or advance their health equity work.

Richard Besser, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) said, “It is an honor to join the National Partnership for Women & Families in celebrating the application of the important health equity guidelines offered by Raising the Bar to maternal and newborn health. Too many barriers – particularly for Black women – get in the way of providing high quality care. I’m excited to see how Raising the Bar will help us eliminate barriers like bias and discrimination around reproductive healthcare.”

Carmen Green, Vice President of Research and Strategy, National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC)
“The National Birth Equity Collaborative is firmly committed to initiatives like Raise the Bar that seeks to improve maternal health equity through a whole-person, anti-racist lens. Black mothers and parents deserve respectful, safe, and equitable healthcare that can only be achieved through a holistic approach to improve the current maternity care system.”

Ceci Connolly, President and CEO, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP)
“The Alliance of Community Health Plans is committed to making health care better – especially when it comes to maternal health – and our partnership in Raising the Bar exemplifies that commitment. ACHP members are uniquely positioned to create targeted, local solutions that advance maternal health equity, and we look forward to drawing on Raising the Bar as we, our members and their community partners identify innovative ways to eliminate maternal health inequities through high-quality coverage and care.”

Jeff Micklos, Executive Director, Health Care Transformation Task Force
“All health care providers can greatly benefit from an effective roadmap designed to reduce inequities and improve maternal health experiences and outcomes. The Raising the Bar’s comprehensive and holistic framework promotes the important role that each healthcare stakeholder plays to advance value-based care delivery and payment models that push toward those important goals.”

As part of the launch of the guidance report, the National Partnership will host an event that includes remarks from the Honorable Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Her remarks will be followed by a panel discussion on innovative approaches to improving maternal health featuring Richard Besser, from RWJF, Betty Chu, MD, Henry Ford Health Systems; Carmen Green, MPH, National Birth Equity Collaborative, Elizabeth Howell, MD, the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Aditi Mallick, MD, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Click to watch the live streamed event.

Read more about the Raising the Bar for Maternal Health Equity and Excellence project, including a collection of concrete tools and resources here:

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About the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.

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