How the governor hopes his proposed budget will protect mothers and their babies

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday he planned to include $22 million in his proposed budget to reduce the number of moms and babies who die after birth. The money would pay for things like a Medicaid coverage expansion and more in-home visits.

While his proposals could help all mothers in Virginia, there is an additional focus on reducing the number of African-American moms who die after giving birth.

"It is unacceptable that black women in Virginia continue to die from pregnancy-related causes at more than twice the rate of white women," Governor Northam said. "As a Commonwealth, we can and must do better. These historic investments will make a real difference for families across Virginia, and will ensure all moms and children have access to the high-quality, culturally-competent care they deserve."

Here's what the Governor hopes to fund:

$4 million to extend FAMIS MOMs' Medicaid coverage program from 60-days post birth to one full year.

$4 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to increase access to affordable, reliable contraception through the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program.

$12.8 million to make home visiting services eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.

The development of a Medicaid reimbursement model for community-based doula services, which have proven effective at reducing maternal mortality, particularly among women of color.

"As a mother who has experienced the tragedy of losing a newborn child, I’m proud and grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this issue," Dr. Aaliyah Samuel said. "Ten years ago, I made a career change because I believe that policy is what changes people’s lives. Today, Governor Northam made it clear he not only listened to my voice and the voices of other mothers, advocates, and community members across the Commonwealth—he heard us loud and clear. Make no mistake, this funding won’t just change lives, it will save lives."

"We're really excited because we've been working on this for such a long time," said Stephanie Spencer, an RN and executive director for Urban Baby Beginnings, a non-profit that helps "pregnant and parenting families in Virginia", of the package. "We can reach so many more mothers and I was telling someone that one of the things is that health is just a basic human right and we do need to support our mothers, so for Governor Northam's office to bring this out it's such an amazing thing and a wonderful feeling and we've all worked so hard to get here."

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