Elizabeth Warren Proposes Reward for Hospitals that Improve Maternal Health of Black Women

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled a plan that would make childbirth safer for Black women. The Democratic presidential hopeful proposed the plan during the She the People forum on Wednesday, April 24, and proposed bonuses for hospitals who lower maternal mortality rates and lower funding for hospitals which do not.

“I want to see the hospitals see it as their responsibility to address this problem head-on and make it a first priority, and the best way to do that is to use money to make it happen,” Warren said during the forum in a video of her discussion posted to Twitter.

During the forum, Warren noted that women of color are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth-related causes. She said “prejudice” is the reason for the disparity in mortality rates among white and Black women. "The best studies that I've seen put it down to just one thing: prejudice," Warren said. "Doctors and nurses don't hear African American women's medical issues the same way that they hear the same things from white women."

In a Twitter thread about her plan, Warren said her proposal would “make it unacceptable” for health care providers to tolerate the high maternal death rate, especially for Black women.

“We've done this in other areas of health care. Let's do it here. If providers deliver quality care to Black moms, they’ll make more. If they don’t, they’ll make less. Don't just observe and debate racism in health care. Make providers pay until this crisis is fixed,” Warren tweeted.

In the past three decades, the US maternal mortality rates have increased, according to The Washington Post. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that between 2011 and 2014, Black women accounted for 40 deaths per 100,000 live births. Earlier this month, the Black Maternal Health Caucus — a new initiative that will prioritize Black maternal health in Congress — was launched by US Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.).

“The statistics around Black maternal health are horrifying, and they haven’t improved in 30 years as maternal health outcomes overall have worsened. But this issue extends beyond statistics for too many women and families, it’s their reality,” Underwood said in a previous statement to The North Star. “This issue demands unique Congressional attention and I’m so proud to lead this effort with Congresswoman Adams to elevate Black maternal health as a national priority and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally-competent policies, and best practices. The status quo is intolerable, we must come together to reverse current trends and achieve optimal birth outcomes for all families.” Warren also recently unveiled a higher education plan that would help fund historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The 2020 presidential candidate’s plan also would eliminate 95 percent of some of student loan debt for nearly 45 million Americans with debt, cancel all student loan debt for 75 percent of people.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.