Since announcing her candidacy for the 2020 presidency, Elizabeth Warren has already proposed several detailed policies. In addition to her plan to eliminate student debt, the Massachusetts senator has also unveiled a plan to address the high maternal mortality rate among Black women.
As part of her plan, which she introduced at the She The People forum and later detailed in an op-ed for Essence, Warren proposed a financial bonus be given to hospitals that safely deliver babies for Black mothers, while the hospitals that fail to keep the Black mother alive “have money taken away from them.”
“In maternity care, health systems would have the flexibility to cover key services — like prenatal and postpartum visits, hypertension and depression screenings, and doula and lactation support — based on their effectiveness, not on their reimbursement rate. Outcomes could be tracked for a significant length of time after birth, to ensure that women and babies stay healthy during the postpartum period, and health systems could be pushed toward greater workforce diversity so care teams look more like the communities they serve,” Warren wrote.
When she first broached the topic of the Black maternal mortality rate, attendants at the She The People forum, which was primarily composed of women of color, appeared excited to finally hear a candidate talk about how Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth.
However, now that more people have had time to carefully consider the plan and its potential effectiveness, many are saying it misses the mark.
First, many people fear this plan could turn into a “no child left behind” for hospitals, which could, in turn, harm the health of Black mothers even further.
Instituting financial penalty for low-quality at hospitals that already lack resources could result in fewer hospitals and medical care in low-income areas.
Also, some believe the plan doesn’t do enough, or anything, to address the real issue of inadequate medical care given to Black women. Many believe hospitals should not be rewarded for keeping Black women alive, a task that should already be their ultimate mission.
Meanwhile, many people see this as a direct appeal to Black voters, which is nothing new for politicians.
Many find themselves asking, “How will Warren actually make sure Black women are considered and protected if and when she is actually in the oval office?”
While Warren may be the only candidate gaining national attention for her maternal mortality rate proposal, she is not the only one who is putting forth legislation to address the issue.