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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Arkansas group raising awareness during Black Maternal Health Week

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Monday, April 15, 2024   

Arkansas is taking critical steps to address its high maternal mortality rate, especially among women of color.

In the Natural State, Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than are white women.

Angela Duran, executive director with Excel by Eight, partners with families and communities to improve health and education outcomes for children up to age eight.

She said that as a result of focus groups and surveys, her organization has developed a new policy agenda that prioritizes maternal health.

"We are looking at is making sure that women have the right health insurance to cover them from prenatal to birth to postpartum," said Duran. "We have met some amazing doulas in the state of Arkansas, who have been very supportive to women, particularly some African American doulas, and been working with Black women around the state."

Duran said Arkansas now offers insurance to women up to 138% of the federal poverty level as a result of the Medicaid expansion.

She added that women at higher incomes can also access health insurance with low or no premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Duran commended Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' signing the executive order to address maternal mortality and increase access to doulas and various forms of health insurance.

Arkansas has a maternal mortality rate of approximately 44 deaths per 100-thousand live births.

Duran said her group's policy objective centers on examining populations that face disenfranchisement from systems for various reasons, hindering their ability to navigate existing structures effectively.

"In addition to maternal health, knowing that it has a stronger impact on Black women, we look at ALICE families - which stands for Asset-Limited Income Constrained and Employed," said Duran. "So, it's people that are working, doing the right thing, and still don't have enough income to meet their basic expenses."

Duran added that a prenatal care model called Centering Pregnancy helps to improves outcomes for Black and white women.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is launching a mobile version to reach underserved communities. It creates support groups for expectant mothers at similar stages.




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