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Straight, No Chaser: Hoping for Health, Happiness and Healthcare Reform that isn't Sexist On Mother's Day

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD June 3, 2020

Apologies in advance for this not being the Mother’s Day post you might have expected, but in the current environment, it’s perhaps a more valuable gift than your typical set of platitudes…
There’s something about being a Mother that men clearly don’t get. Even as a physician, I’ve always been fascinated at how seemingly oblivious to their own health women are in pursuit of the care of their children. I’m not just talking about all the infection risks that come from caring for the snotty noses, strep throats, flu and pneumonia that kids get (moms, you do know that stuff is contagious, right?). I’m talking about risks of death. Mother’s Day is as good of a time as any to remind the thirteen men in the US Senate drafting a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) why this matters.
Did you know that the U.S. has the absolute worst maternal mortality rate (death during childbirth) in the developed world? That’s right (or wrong), we’re #1 in the worst possible way here. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. was one of a very few countries in which the rates of death for pregnant and new mothers increased in the years between 1990 and 2015. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, that rate dropped by 44% – nearly half. In 2014 alone, the estimated US maternal mortality rate increased by 26.6%. The sum total here is about three mothers die every single day. In case you were wondering, according to this same data, African-American women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women.

Of course, nothing compares to an actual death, but our ongoing national tragedy is compounded by analysis from the CDC Foundation suggesting that approximately 60% of maternal deaths are preventable. In other words, this isn’t just attributable to say, women choosing to have children at more advanced ages, which independently increases the risk of death.

Incredibly, it is against this backdrop that steps are in place to worsen the situation. Remember, death is an absolute and not a factor of your political inclinations. In the American Health Care Act bill just passed in the House of Representatives, here’s a three-pack of considerations that will predictably further increase the maternal mortality rate:

  • Labeling pregnancy as a pre-existing condition
  • Reducing or eliminating coverage for contraception and abortion
  • Removal of funding for Planned Parenthood and other sources of reproductive health

Medicaid pays for approximately one-half of the childbirths in the United States.
This post probably isn’t what you think it is. Given everything happening in the political arena regarding proposed changes in this nation’s provision of health, Mother’s Day is as good of a time as any to remind the 13 men in the US Senate why this matters.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. Here’s hoping it’s a healthy one. Let’s all give the additional give of fighting for adequate health care.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
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