Sen. Kaine holds roundtable in Hampton on maternal health


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will be in Hampton roads today to talk about a major issue impacting mothers.

Kaine will hold a roundtable discussion on maternal health and reducing racial disparities in mortality rates.

According to state health officials, the pregnancy-associated death rate for black women was more than double white women between 2004 and 2013.

It might be hard to believe for some, but when it comes to maternal health, the U.S. doesn’t fare well.

“We have an unacceptably high maternal mortality rate in this country,” Kaine said.

The problem goes even deeper when you take a look at the racial disparities in those mortality rates.

“In the pregnancy-related, directly related to pregnancy, African-American mortality rate would often be three times what a Caucasian mortality rate would be,” Kaine said.

Kaine said it’s a major issue that needs more attention.

On Friday, he met with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to get ideas to take back to Washington.

“It’s going to be helpful for my work on the health committee in the senate,” Kaine said.

One of the issues affecting new mothers is access to care. We’re told some of the Medicaid services available to new mothers are cut off after two months.

Kaine said he wants to put more focus on this.

“About half of the deliveries in Virginia are paid for my Medicaid,” Kaine said. ”If you have a chronic physical condition, if you’re suffering from postpartum depression, you need services more than just two months after delivery.”

Others mentioned the need for more African-American doctors who can connect with their patients.

Kaine said there’s a lot more work to be done but the discussion is a good place to start.

“It’s a problem we’re trying to solve and I think there’s some solutions in this room that’s good for me to come and learn about.” Kaine said.

Kaine has already co-sponsored the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act, which is legislation to create two new grant programs focused on reducing racial disparities in maternal health.

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