Biden-Harris Administration Launches ‘Birthing-Friendly’ Designation

By the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health Policy Team

In a press release, the Biden-Harris Administration has unveiled the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Care Compare online tool. This user-friendly tool aims to empower expectant parents by helping them identify hospitals and health systems committed to providing high-quality maternity care.

Our work shaping and reporting on national mental health policy is made possible through a 2020-2023 capacity grant from the Perigee Fund.

A Powerful Tool for Consumers

The ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation identifies hospitals and health systems participating in statewide or national perinatal quality improvement collaborative programs. These institutions implement evidence-based care to enhance maternal health, offering a tangible marker for consumers seeking first-rate care. Accessible through the Care Compare tool and an interactive map, this designation empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their maternity care.

Driving Results and Centering Health Equity

As maternal health inequities persist, the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation serves as a concrete step towards closing gaps and ensuring equitable care for all expectant parents.

The designation is particularly vital, considering that 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Moreover, racial and ethnic minority groups, such as Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, face higher rates of pregnancy-related death and negative healthcare experiences during pregnancy and delivery.

A Collaborative Effort for Change

The ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation is part of a larger strategy outlined in the CMS Maternity Care Action Plan. In December, CMS hosted its inaugural Maternal Care Health Convening, where over two dozen health plans committed to incorporating the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation on their consumer websites, reaching a collective audience of over 150 million people.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to maternal health is evident through various initiatives, including urging all states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories to provide continuous postpartum coverage. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 facilitates this effort, allowing states to offer Medicaid and CHIP coverage for an entire year after pregnancy.

A Step Forward for Maternal Mental Health

The launch of the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of improved maternal care in the United States. This clear and accessible tool for consumers can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their maternity care, ultimately driving positive change in maternity care quality, safety, and equity. 

The Policy Center believes it’s critical to track hospital participation (and outcomes) in quality improvement activities. Designations like this are an important step in improving patient care and birth outcomes.