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Bill package targets disparities in maternal healthcare

New Michigan bills in the state Senate are trying to address racial disparities when it comes to maternal health care.

The legislation would require the state and gather data on bias and racism that could occur in care during a pregnancy and after childbirth.

Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) said fixing racism in maternal health care goes beyond steps like implicit bias training.

“There are also things in terms of pattern and practices that people don’t even really think about because they have been so embedded in the system for so many decades,” Geiss said.

Geiss said she hopes the bills lead to significant improvements in maternal and infant health.

“When you have a good birth outcome, and you can have that good first year of life for your infant. And now you are setting your whole family up for success,” she said.

Research from the state health department found Black women in Michigan were more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women in the state.

Another part of the package would require health insurance plans to cover the costs of licensed midwife services.

Leseliey Welch is co-founder of Birth Detroit, which provides midwifery services.

She said the current lack of insurance coverage for midwives creates an unfair system where not everyone can afford the care options best suited for them.

“For normal physiologic birth, midwives are providing comprehensive prenatal care, comprehensive birth care, comprehensive postpartum care, and should be reimbursed as such,” Welch said.

The legislation introduction comes as the governor's office is declaring the week, Black Maternal Health Week.