HMHBGA 2020 Advocacy Stakeholder Meeting: Lessons Learned

Author: HMHBGA Staff

On August 19, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss maternal and infant health priorities for the 2020 legislative session. Participating stakeholders ranged across a variety of maternal and child health, health advocacy, and provider organizations. The group actively reviewed maternal and infant health data through a health equity lens to inform the meeting. A number of shared priorities were identified and included solutions to improve the economic stability, access to care, and programs services for Georgia families. Below are two important lessons we learned from this meeting that will help inform our policy work moving forward.
During our data walk we shared with the group recent data on maternal and infant health outcomes in the State of Georgia to help frame the discussion around policy issues and solutions. Through this exercise,  it became apparent how important it is to view policy work though a health equity lens. We were intentional in considering how policy solutions would affect people of color, women covered by Medicaid, and families living in rural communities. While maternal and infant health needs to be improved across the State, understanding how and why these issues affect particular groups of people differently is needed to inform decisions. Racial disparities were present in birth outcomes, breastfeeding rates, and maternal deaths. Additionally, women covered by Medicaid are far more likely to experience postpartum coverage loss and less likely to breastfeed compared to privately insured women. For families living in rural communities, disparities were not as pervasive. Birthing outcomes and infant mortality rates were on par for both rural and urban communities. Disparities highlighted during the data walk can be found below.
  • People of color
    • Black infant are two times as likely to be born low birthweight compared to white infants
    • Georgia’s Black, Asian, and other race low birthweight rates are all above the national average
    • Black infants have the highest rate of prematurity (14% of births) compared to other racial groups
    • Black babies are two times more likely compared to all other racial groups to die before their first birthday
    • Black women made up 60% of pregnancy-related deaths between 2012-2014
    • Black and Latinx women are two times more likely than white women to have inadequate prenatal care
    • Breastfeeding rates among Black and Asian mothers are below the CDC goal of 81.9%
  • Women covered by Medicaid
    • The breastfeeding rate for women covered by Medicaid is 81.3% compared to women covered by private insurance at 90.3%
    • 47% of mothers covered by Medicaid during their pregnancy do not receive timely prenatal care
    • 35% of mothers covered by Medicaid during their pregnancy lose coverage during the postpartum period compared to only 5% of those that were privately insured
    • Georgia has the second highest rate (22.4%) of uninsured new mothers among 40 states
Not only is it important to approach policy work with a health equity lens, it also vital to ensure that relevant stakeholders are engaged throughout the process. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and stakeholders shared their priorities and were able to find ways to support each other during this upcoming session. This approach in tandem with health equity is essential in the work of policy advocacy. There are plenty of health advocates and organizations throughout State doing amazing work to improve the health of all Georgians. It is necessary for all groups to come together in working towards advocacy priorities and goals. During the stakeholder meeting, it was discovered that a number of organizations were working on the same priorities, creating the potential for partnership. This practice helps all stakeholders by reducing the duplication of efforts, sharing resources, and enhancing capacity among organizations. We are excited to continue this collaborative approach to policy work and would like to thank all stakeholders that were able to attend!