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Focus on Equity, Literacy, and Advocacy Needed to Curb Maternal Deaths among Black Women



Reading Time: 3 minutes

AmeriHealth Caritas addresses national maternal health disparities
that see black mothers three to four times more likely to die from
pregnancy-related causes than white mothers

PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”” target=”_blank”gt;#AmeriHealthCaritaslt;/agt;–The United States has the highest
gross domestic product
and one of the highest standards of living in
the world,1 yet its maternal mortality rate is one of only 13
in the world that is higher than it was 25 years ago.2 The
numbers are worse among black women in America, who are three to four
times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white
counterparts, while black infants are more than twice as likely to die
as white infants. What’s more, these disparities transcend income and
level of education.3

Infant and maternity mortality rates are regarded as measures of the
health of a society. The racial and ethnic disparities in our current
rates reflect longstanding biases that challenge our very basic capacity
to offer fair and ethical health care,” said Dr. Lenaye Lawyer, an
OB-GYN and one of the market chief medical officers for AmeriHealth
, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health
care solutions for those most in need. “The provider community should be
aware of these disparities and recommendations for reducing them.”

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, there are broader
problems in the health care system and in the delivery of maternal care

which disproportionally affect black women.4 For example, a
survey conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 22
percent of black women report discrimination
when going to the
doctor or clinic.5

In 2016, the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care issued recommendations
for reducing peripartum racial and ethnic disparities
. These
recommendations include, but are not limited to:6

  • Health care providers establishing a “culture of equity,” including
    implementing quality improvement projects that target disparities in
    health care outcomes, access, and treatment.
  • Providers establishing systems and staff-wide education programs for
    collecting race, ethnicity, and language data, and how to use that
    information to improve patient care.
  • Health care providers training staff on racial and ethnic disparities
    and their root causes, as well as implicit bias.
  • Engaging in shared decision making between providers, patients, and
    family members.

Dr. Lily Higgins, another AmeriHealth Caritas market chief medical
officer, added that improving health literacy and self-advocacy skills
can also help more black women have healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and

If the health care system can foster a culture of health equity,
literacy, and advocacy, we will take a big step towards eliminating
maternal health disparities in this country,” said Dr. Higgins.

About AmeriHealth Caritas

AmeriHealth Caritas is one of the nation’s leaders in health care
solutions for those most in need. Operating in 11 states and the
District of Columbia, AmeriHealth Caritas serves more than 5 million
Medicaid, Medicare, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
members through its integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical
benefit management and specialty pharmacy services, and behavioral
health services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a
mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of experience
serving low-income and chronically ill populations. AmeriHealth Caritas
is part of the Independence Health Group in partnership with Blue Cross
Blue Shield of Michigan. For more information, visit

1 GDP (current US$). The World Bank, 2017.

2 Villarosa, L. Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in
a Life-or-Death Crisis. New York Times Magazine, 11 April 2018.


3 Ibid

4 Black Women’s Maternal Health: A Multifaceted Approach to
Addressing Persistent and Dire Health Disparities. National Partnership
for Women & Families, April 2018.

5 Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views of
American Women. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 2017.

6 Reduction of Peripartum Racial/Ethnic Disparities. Council
on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care, 2016.



Joshua Brett
Tel: 1-215-863-5458
[email protected]

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