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Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; CA monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.

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Nikki Haley says she may not endorse the GOP nominee, President Biden says the U-S will continue air-dropping aid into Gaza and more states look at ditching the electoral college for a national popular vote.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

VA Group Works to Improve Maternal Health

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023   

A Virginia group is working to boost maternal health across the state. Since 2011, maternal mortality rates have increased across the U.S. but Virginia's rate - at just over 29 deaths for every 100,000 live births - is much higher than the national rate of 23.5. Lee County has the state's highest rate of maternal vulnerability, or poor health outcomes in pregnancy, at almost 84%. Some counties are considered maternal health deserts, with not enough doctors to serve the needs. To reverse these trends, there are several necessary steps that need to be taken, said Stephanie Spencer Urban Baby Beginnings Executive Director.

"We have to make sure that care is available to every person that needs it," she explained. "So, when I say that - whether it be from the perspective of prior to becoming pregnant - making sure that people have accessible insurance and coverage, to make sure when they're connecting with a provider, that they can see them and that's affordable."

She noted the state has faced multiple barriers, from some facilities closing, to racial disparities and a lack of culturally appropriate care. A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report said access could be improved through innovation, better technology and updating payment policies.

The pandemic also took a toll on maternal health. In 2020 and 2021, the Government Accountability Office found COVID-19 contributed to 25% of maternal deaths. Shifting to telehealth has presented challenges for people who are pregnant, along with other health problems, Spencer said.

"Though virtual can be a great support, it can't be the only type of support," she added. "And so, we did see that moms were impacted negatively in that way. Some of the other things I saw were increases in hypertension and preeclampsia."

Some federal initiatives also are being considered. In Congress, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act has bipartisan support. It was introduced last month and awaits action in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


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