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Mothers’ Lives in the Balance: AHA Urges the Legislature to Act

The American Heart Association and a group of organizations across Alabama are calling on the Alabama Legislature, Governor and Medicaid Commissioner to extend postpartum healthcare coverage to save the lives of Alabama’s mothers.

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More than 40 organizations are calling on the Alabama Legislature to extend Medicaid postpartum care from 60 days to one year after giving birth and to allocate the funds necessary to give mothers lifesaving care during a critical time in their lives and the lives of their families. A press conference will be held to advocate for these women on Wednesday, March 9th at 12:30 p.m. on the State House steps. The public is encouraged to attend.

The organizations that have joined the American Heart Association in signing the letter in support of expanded postpartum coverage are:

Alabama Arise BirthWell Partners Community Doula Project
Community Enabler Developer, Inc. Wings Across Alabama
NAACP – Alabama State Conference League of Women Voters of Alabama
Village Maternal Services Hometown Organizing Project
United Way of South Alabama The Knights & Orchids Society
Council on Substance Abuse – NCADD Alabama Rare
Sacred Soul Wellness LLC ADAP
Empower Birth & Bonding LLC USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital
Medical Advocacy & Outreach Community Foundation of NE Alabama
Tiny Feet & Heartbeats Birth & Baby Human Resource Consulting, Inc.
Alabama Academy of Family Physicians Resurrection Catholic Missions
Alabama Primary Health Care Association Faith in Action - Alabama
Women’s Foundation of Alabama The E. We Foundation
Anniston First United Methodist Church 5th Episcopal District CME Church
American Lung Association – Alabama NAACP – Mobile Branch
AL Chapter- American Academy of Pediatrics No More Martyrs
Zonta Club of Birmingham AL Council for Behavioral Healthcare
Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham Nurse-Family Partnership
United Women of Color AIDS Alabama
Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice

“Heart disease and stroke account for an estimated one in three deaths during pregnancy and birth,” said Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, legislative champion for this work. “That is shocking. And 82.7% of pregnancy-associated deaths and 38.4% of pregnancy-related deaths occurred 43-365 days postpartum – higher than any other period. We need to act to protect the health of women before, during and after their pregnancy, both for themselves and their babies.”

"This is not a partisan issue,” said Jada Shaffer, government relations regional director for the American Heart Association. “It is about saving lives and it impacts the entire state. We are grateful for the support of Representatives Hall and [Debbie] Wood [R-Valley] in speaking out and prioritizing care for women in their reproductive years.”

According to the American Heart Association, women experience unique stages through their lives which affect both overall health and cardiovascular health. Pregnancy can lead to cardiovascular conditions (including peripartum cardiomyopathy, stroke, heart attack) as well as adverse pregnancy outcomes (gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes) that can increase a woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

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