ALBANY, NY (WENY) — At a time when maternal mortality rates remain high, last week the Senate passed a bill to enhance the scope of health equity assessments to now include reproductive and maternal health services.
“We really need to not only reduce maternal mortality but also expand access to services,” said Senator Lea Webb (D-52nd Senate District), a sponsor of the bill.
Health equity assessments are collected by the New York State Department of Health. When WENY News reached out to the Department of Health, they said they would not comment on pending legislation.
Sen. Webb said this bill could help the legislature address what are known as maternal health deserts–where some communities have limited to no access to maternal healthcare. She hopes this legislation will lead to an expansion of resources.
A physician with Guthrie Clinic said if care, ranging from mammograms and pap smears to prenatal care isn’t being provided, the likelihood of an individual’s health suffering is very high.
“Women who do not get prenatal care, they’re at risk for preterm labor, they’re at risk for the babies not growing properly, they’re at risk themselves because we know that diabetes and high blood pressure are issues that some of our moms struggle with,” said Dr. Manuel Arreguin, MD, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology ad the Guthrie Clinic.
Doctor Arreguin said this bill is a step in the right direction and addressing barriers to care–like language and transportation–can increase positive maternal and reproductive health outcomes.
The bill will now go to the Assembly for a vote, and if it’s passed in the exact same language it will then go to the governor’s desk for her signature.