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Congresswoman Robin Kelly

Representing the 2nd District of Illinois

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Rep. Kelly & Lawmakers Press Major Health Insurers to Ramp Up Their Efforts to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal & Infant Health Outcomes

Jul 12, 2018
Press Release
U.S. is one of only 13 developed countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is worse today than it was 25 years ago

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) today led 23 Senators and 11 U.S. Representatives in pressing 15 major health insurers for information regarding what pregnancy and postpartum health care services are covered by their insurance plans in order to better understand what steps they are taking to reduce racial disparities and improve maternal and infant health outcomes.  The members also urged the health insurers to reject the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections and commit to covering the full range of health care services needed to ensure successful maternal and infant health outcomes for all enrollees.

The United States is one of only 13 developed countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality—the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth either during pregnancy or up to a year after the end of the pregnancy—is worse today than it was 25 years ago.  Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 women nationwide now die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, with black women being three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.  Further, black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants.

“The United States is one of the very few developed countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are increasing—and there is a greater racial gap in infant mortality rates today than there was during slavery in America. This is simultaneously unacceptable and heart-breaking. More must be done to help women and infants—especially black mothers and babies—and we look forward to hearing what United Healthcare plans to do to assist in these efforts,” the members wrote in their letter to Steve Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of United Healthcare.

Along with Durbin and Duckworth, the letters were also signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

Along with Rep. Kelly, the letters were also signed by U.S. Representatives Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM-01), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09).

A recent report from nine maternal mortality review committees, entitled “Building U.S. Capacity to Review and Prevent Maternal Deaths,” found that nearly 50 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths were caused by hemorrhage, cardiovascular and coronary conditions, cardiomyopathy, or infection. Further, the report found that the leading causes of death varied by race—with preeclampsia, eclampsia, and embolism the leading underlying causes of death among black women, and mental health conditions among the leading underlying causes of death among white women.  Perhaps most shocking of all, the report estimated that more than 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

Full text of the letter to Aetna is available here

Full text of the letter to Anthem is available here

Full text of the letter to Blue Shield of California is available here

Full text of the letter to CareFirst is available here

Full text of the letter to Caresource is available here

Full text of the letter to Centene Corporation is available here

Full text of the letter to Cigna Corporation is available here.

Full text of the letter to Health Care Service Corporation is available here

Full text of the letter to Highmark is available here

Full text of the letter to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is available here

Full text of the letter to Humana is available here

Full text of the letter to Kaiser Permanente is available here

Full text of the letter to Molina Healthcare, Inc. is available here

Full text of the letter to United Healthcare is available here

Full text of the letter to WellCare Health Plans is available here.

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