Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg released a plan Monday for reducing deaths among pregnant women.
He unveiled his proposal in Montgomery, Ala., which suffers from some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Despite recent progress, Alabama also suffers from one of the highest infant death rates in the county.
“In the greatest and wealthiest country in the world, we cannot accept the disgraceful racial inequality in maternal health care that exists in Alabama and across the country,” Bloomberg said.
“As president, I will make ending that inequality and improving health care for African-American women a top priority — and the plan I am announcing today will help us do it. I’ve spent decades protecting women’s rights and improving women’s health care, and I know we can end these racial disparities and save the lives of so many African-American mothers and children.”
Florida notably also suffers from a high rate of pregnancy-associated deaths, with 65% of those in 2016 occurring among women of color and 41% among black mothers, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Bloomberg said fighting implicit bias in health care would help reduce mortality in communities of color, in which more expectant mothers see early health problems go unaddressed. The candidate’s plan would require training to counter discrimination with patients. He also wants to increase funding for medical education at historically black colleges and universities.
He also wants better standardization in data collection with the Centers for Disease Control, something that long-term could benefit the entire health care arena.
And Bloomberg said offering a public option with health insurance will also improve health care access.
In total, Bloomberg said his plan should improve access for 28 million women of childbearing age living in rural areas by encouraging more practitioners to serve those communities. That will be done through expansion of the National Health Service Corps.
City leaders from across the county praised the plan.
“My wife and I just welcomed a newborn baby boy,” said Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, Calif.
“It is not lost on me that the United States is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth. More women die in childbirth now than they did twenty years ago, which should shock every American. And black women are dying at rates that are even higher than their white counterparts. Mike knows this and it’s why we should all get behind Mike’s plan to wrap better services around pregnant mothers and put programs in place to combat racial bias in health care.”
A number of former Planned Parenthood executives also supported Bloomberg’s proposal.
“Bloomberg has long championed public health issues and placed women’s health needs as core to ensuring healthy communities. His plan speaks to the critical need for these services across the country, and I applaud his plan,” said Joan Malin, former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City.
In unrolling his agenda, Bloomberg also took swipes at President Donald Trump’s administration for eroding Title IX protections for women and threatening access to abortion. Bloomberg said he will push to codify abortion access into law even in the event a conservative court reverses all or part of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.
The policy move comes as Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor, opened an expanded presidential campaign headquarters in Times Square, as reported by POLITICO. The outlet also reported Bloomberg has brought on Galia Slayen, who previously worked for Montana Mayor Steve Bullock, as national spokesperson.