HHS Awards $65M to Address Maternal Health Crisis, Support New Leave a comment


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has awarded $65+ million to 35 HRSA-funded health centers. The awarded funds will support underserved and rural communities as part of the White House Blueprint, a “whole-of-government strategy” designed to improve the maternal health crisis.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “The Biden-Harris Administration is taking significant steps to address our country’s maternal health crisis. This support for HRSA-funded health centers will help ensure healthier pregnancy and postpartum outcomes for all, and help address health disparities among women of color and women in rural and medically underserved areas.” 


HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson added, “We need bold solutions that recognize and respond to the unacceptable disparities in maternal health outcomes in this country. Through this new funding, health centers will be able to tailor their response to the needs of their patients and communities, and take action to save lives.” 

According to maternal mortality statistics, the U.S. ranks highest of any developed nation in the world, with more than double the death rate of peer countries. As such, the awarded funds are intended to “implement innovative approaches to improve maternal health outcomes, and reduce disparities for patients at the highest risk.” Among the highest at-risk races are Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women, who are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than White women. 

Within the U.S., the approximately 1,400 HRSA-funded health centers operate nearly 15,000 service sites. They provide prenatal care to nearly 550,000 people each year, and deliver more than 160,000 babies annually. Areas targeted for the awarded funds include “bilingual doula services, leveraging health technology to reach rural patients, and providing culturally aware mental and behavioral health care for pregnant women and their families.” 

Funds to improve maternal health include financial support not only to health centers but also to other HRSA-supported programs carried out by states, community-based organizations, and training programs, such as:

·      HRSA-supported Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Patient Safety Bundles that are setting the standard for improving maternal care processes and patient outcomes in hospitals and other delivery settings across the country;

·       HRSA’s Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program that is building networks in rural communities to strengthen prenatal, delivery, and post-pregnancy support services;

·       HRSA-funded State Maternal Health Innovation Programs that are directly supporting states to address the disparities in maternal health outcomes. This is being accomplished by building state coalitions of diverse stakeholders to inform state action, improving the collection and use of maternal health data, and launching new service delivery activities such as the use of mobile vans in remote regions, as well as creating a course for how to treat mothers with substance use disorder respectfully and effectively;

·       HRSA’s Maternal Health Workforce Programs that are training new certified nurse midwives, training more community-based doulas, providing loan repayment incentives for nurses to practice in high-need communities, and building and deploying metrics that identify the areas with the greatest maternal health workforce needs;

·       HRSA’s Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA that offers direct, confidential, emotional, and mental health support to pregnant women and new parents 24/7. The hotline is available in English and Spanish, and provided by trained counselors;

·       HRSA’s Screening and Treatment for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Program that is providing training for OB/GYNs, Certified Nurse Midwives, and other maternal care providers to support the mental health needs of their patients. The program provides tele-consultation options to get real-time support from mental health experts in managing their cases. 

For a detailed breakdown of the Health Center Program awards, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/funding/funding-opportunities/quality-improvement-fund-maternal-health/fy2023-awards. To locate a HRSA-supported health center, visit: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/.        


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