House Dems Celebrate Black Maternal Health Week

Members highlight the progress done and work ahead to improve healthy birthing outcomes for all


LANSING, Mich., April 11, 2024 — Michigan House Democrats are  proud to recognize Black Maternal Health Week, taking place the week of April 11-17. The week is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting advocacy for the health and well-being of Black mothers — it is a critical time to acknowledge the fixable disparities that exist in maternal health outcomes.

“We are proud to stand with organizations, health care providers and advocates who work tirelessly to improve maternal health outcomes. During Black Maternal Health Week, we re-up our commitment  to the urgent work of ensuring that every mother, regardless of race or background, has the support and care she needs for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. We can do and must do more to ensure more Black babies make it to their first birthday and far beyond,” said state Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit), chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee.

In Michigan, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. This is an unacceptable reality that demands action. Thankfully, Michigan Democrats have recently taken steps to address these disparities. As part of the state’s Healthy Moms Healthy Babies initiative, Michigan covers doula services under its Medicaid program for expecting mothers.

“We’re making smart decisions for the reproductive care of all women in Michigan, with emphasis on equitable access to affordable, quality care and services. In 2023, we expanded Medicaid coverage of doula services for pregnant women, a move to further help address health disparities that affect infant and maternal mortality, eventually closing  the racial gaps that exist in maternal and infant health outcomes. This is a positive and needed start as we continue to focus on improving maternal and infant health across the state for all,” said state Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), chair of the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

State Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) testifies on behalf of House Bills 5169-71 before the House Health Policy Committee on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023 in the House Office Building in Lansing. Grant’s bill, HB 5175, requires coverage for mental health screenings for new mothers.

Expanding access to health care services like doulas will link every pregnant woman who signs up for Medicaid with pregnancy managers that provide support, resources and guidance. Pregnancy managers monitor pregnant mothers for major issues like preeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and then recommend treatments. The policy strategy of expanding doula care to address the need for increased access to resources for reproductive care, is consistent with what is widely reported as an increasing trend of Black women using doulas to deliver their babies, taking matters into their own hands for a safe delivery.

“Doulas can play a vital role in addressing the alarming disparities in Black maternal health. Their support, advocacy and expertise can be the difference between life and death, ensuring that Black mothers receive the care, respect and attention they deserve during one of the most pivotal moments of their lives. By integrating doulas into our Medicaid system, we can take a significant step toward eliminating racial disparities and save lives,” said state Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids).

The Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative that began in 2021 includes the expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage, the addition of Medicaid doula services and the implementation and expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs, investing more than $68 million to expand evidence-based services to improve outcomes by addressing inequity. A partial list of new policies supported through this bipartisan initiative that supports pregnant women, new mothers and infants. includes the following:

  • Medicaid coverage was extended for a full 12-month postpartum period.
  • Doula services are now eligible for Medicaid reimbursement (since January 2023).
  • The Michigan Home Visitors Initiative supported over 20,000 families in fiscal year 2022 and continues to offer support, education and partnership with pregnant and parenting families.
  • Statewide, regional partnerships through the regional Perinatal Quality Collaborative continue to support birthing hospitals in providing evidence-based care for infants who were born substance-exposed, drastically decreasing the number of infants who required pharmacological treatment for opioid exposure since 2015.
  • An online course, Breastfeeding for Professionals Working with Families, was created to provide Michigan professionals with tools to support a culture of breastfeeding.
  • The Detroit Health Equity Education Resource, a website with health equity information and tools to improve perinatal care and outcomes through organizational capacity building, was launched.

House Dems invite all Michiganders to join in this important observance by learning more about the challenges facing Black mothers and advocating for policies that promote equity in maternal health. By putting people first, Dems are making a difference and ensuring all families have the opportunity to thrive.