FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Audrey Ann Ross
AccessMatters Joins 25 Other Organizations to Unveil 12-Month Plan With Perinatal and Postpartum Health Recommendations to Governor Shapiro’s Administration
[PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 23, 2024]: For Pennsylvania Maternal Health Awareness Day*, AccessMatters contributed to a statewide collective plan to raise awareness of recommendations to improve maternal health and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-associated mortality rates are two times greater for non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic whites. The plan includes recommendations that the State Administration could achieve in a 12-month period. It also describes how stakeholders can support the priorities.
In November 2023, over 25 maternal health organizations and groups across Pennsylvania worked together to develop a prioritized list of recommendations for private and public stakeholders to advance in 2024. Over the past two months, these organizations met several times and completed surveys to understand and uplift each other’s existing work and maternal health policy ideas.
The Collective Plan is uplifting the following existing recommendations from members of the group:
- Establish a Perinatal Behavioral Health Access Program to provide consultation and expertise to providers on how to identify and care for women and other birthing people with mental health or substance use-related needs
- Reimburse Doulas who provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women and other birthing people.
- Reimburse Community Health Workers who serve the communities in which they reside or communities with which they may share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, or life experiences to improve health outcomes in the community
- Build a diverse, culturally appropriate perinatal health workforce
- Increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that provides nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods
- Support educational campaigns with trusted community partners about maternal health and the available services and supports in the community
The Collective Plan is building on past and recent achievements in Pennsylvania, including the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative, home visiting requirements and a value-based payment model for maternity care in the Medicaid managed care program, surveillance of severe maternal morbidity, a Maternal and Child Health Fund initiative, increases in WIC enrollment, and new policies for Doulas and Community Health Workers.
“Perinatal and postpartum health is intrinsically connected to the overall health and wellness of individuals, families, and communities. We are pleased that the Commonwealth is prioritizing not only conversations but also taking action to address the health disparities that exist,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, AccessMatters’ President & CEO. “Through AccessMatters’ work and the Pennsylvania Perinatal Partnership, we look forward to supporting these vitally important policy priorities during the next year.”
AccessMatters, a public health non-profit in Philadelphia, provides services and information directly to people, supports a large network of healthcare provider organizations, and conducts research, training, and advocacy. As the steward of several federal, state, and locally-funded programs related to sexual and reproductive health, perinatal and postpartum health, breast and cervical cancer screening, and STDs/HIV, AccessMatters is a critical part of the region’s healthcare safety net. AccessMatters also provides training and capacity-building services to health and human service professionals nationwide on topics related to sexual health and health equity, including the impact of racism on health outcomes.
AccessMatters manages the Pennsylvania Perinatal Partnership (also known as the PPP), a collaborative group comprised of professionals, organizations, and government agencies in Pennsylvania that support the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians throughout the perinatal and postpartum periods, and while parenting young children. The mission of the Pennsylvania Perinatal Partnership is to improve health outcomes for pregnant/birthing/postpartum people and their children through education, advocacy, and collaboration. Any professional, organization, or government agency that works to protect and support the health and wellbeing of people in Pennsylvania throughout the perinatal and postpartum periods, whose mission and values align with the mission and guiding principles of the PPP and AccessMatters is eligible for membership. For more information about the Pennsylvania Perinatal Partnership, visit www.accessmatters.org/pennsylvania-perinatal-partnership.
AccessMatters’ work reaches more than 100,000 people each year, across Greater Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, and throughout the nation, positively impacting people’s health and wellness. For more information about AccessMatters, visit our website at www.accessmatters.org or follow us @AccessMatters4U on Twitter, and @AccessMatters on Facebook.
*Please note: This press release uses language supported by the collaboration of organizations working on the Collective Plan. Generally, AccessMatters uses the terminology “perinatal and postpartum health” instead of “maternal health” because AccessMatters acknowledges that people who do not identify as women – transgender men and nonbinary people – may also experience pregnancy and childbirth. They frequently experience discrimination and medical care that is not inclusive and affirming of their gender, including repeated misgendering during their perinatal and postpartum care. As part of our commitment to equity, dismantling oppression, and being trauma informed, and in alignment with growing consensus over best practices, AccessMatters aims to use gender-inclusive language when discussing the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.