AUSTIN (KXAN) – Maternal health advocates are demanding the state health department release data on why mothers in Texas are dying and whether those deaths are preventable.
The Department of State Health Services first told the KXAN Investigators that the report of Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Committee won’t be released until next summer, but is now expected to come out before the upcoming legislative session.
“These are not just numbers on the page. These are lives of women who have died,” said Nakinya Wilson, a member of the committee.
Wilson explained that the commission is still in the middle of reviewing maternal deaths in 2019. She is also a founding member of Partnership for Equity in Maternal Health who advocates for the improvement of maternal health among black women. The group is demanding that the data be released immediately.
“I think it should have been on September 1, and that’s by law. So there’s a reason this timeline exists. “Legislators are now setting their policy agendas, as are other organizations that advocate for families and health care,” Wilson explained.
Release in December
The new interim DSHS commissioner said he will discuss with the commission the need for updated data and recommendations at the next meeting on Dec. 8.
“It is my intention to provide timely data and recommendations to help inform efforts during the 88th legislative session.” I will also ensure that the department provides recommendations before the legislative session on how to make mortality reviews as efficient and useful as possible,” Commissioner Jennifer Shuford said in a letter addressed to state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin and chair of the Caucus on of Texas Women’s Health, which had asked about the data being released.
State Rep. Shawn Theirry, D-Houston, tweeted Thursday a letter she received from Commissioner Shuford saying that DSHS “has responded to my letter requesting the release of the 2022 Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Report.” She added, “@TexasDSHS will now send the data and recommendations to the 88th #txlege Legislature for review. TY Dr Shuford; looking forward to our upcoming meeting!”
She is pushing for legislation to include updated data collection on deaths during or within a year of giving birth and high-risk conditions and complications.
Wilson explained that the most recent data is from maternal deaths from 2013. She said that according to older data, black women statewide had pregnancy-related deaths at 2.3 times the rate of white women. She added that the delay affects a better understanding of the causes of more deaths.
Wilson explained that the report is supposed to be released every two years, and previously the commission has always released preliminary findings and recommendations based on data and completed cases.
“Then we go back and make additions at a later date. So this is the first time we’re not releasing a report, it’s not unusual to still have some cases that we still need to review at the time the report is released,” she said.
A recent report of US Government Accountability Office who analyzed data from the CDC nationally found that maternal mortality among black women was disproportionately higher than other women during the pandemic.
“The maternal mortality rate for black or African American (not Hispanic or Latino) women was 44.0 per 100,000 live births in 2019, then increased to 55.3 in 2020 and 68.9 in 2021. In contrast of these, white (non-Hispanic or Latino) women had mortality rates of 17.9, 19.1, and 26.1, respectively,” the federal government’s report stated.
Rally for mothers
The Maternal Health Equity Collaborative said that in addition to the published data, the state should also expand Medicaid coverage to 12 months after birth to better monitor a woman’s condition before it becomes life-threatening. The group added that Medicaid should reimburse doula services and that cultural competency training should be required for health professionals.
Advocates and families will push for change at a rally on Tuesday, November 1St 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.
“The rally will be held at the culmination of Maternal and Infant Pregnancy Loss Month and Día de las Muertos to honor the lives of mothers and babies, and the families and communities forever affected by their premature loss,” it said in a statement. for news.
Gov. Greg Abbott and all lawmakers have been invited to participate in what organizers are calling a call to action to prioritize people over politics.
“I believe that every woman, every mother who has been lost through pregnancy and birth and postpartum in the first year deserves to be honored. And part of honoring them is taking that loss and turning it into a gain going forward. We want to honor them. And burying data is essentially equivalent to burying it in a dishonest way,” Wilson said.