HHS Launches Postpartum Maternal Health Collaborative

By the Policy Center’s Legislative and Regulatory Policy Team

Our work shaping and reporting on national mental health policy is made possible through a 2023-2024 capacity grant from the Perigee Fund.

On Wednesday, February 14, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled the Secretary’s Postpartum Maternal Health Collaborative. This groundbreaking initiative, announced by Secretary Xavier Becerra, aims to address the critical issue of postpartum mortality by fostering collaboration among state leaders, community partners, and federal experts.

According to Secretary Becerra, “Health equity and access to care are top priorities for my office and are foundational to addressing maternal health disparities in our country.” This collaborative effort seeks to understand the challenges faced by postpartum individuals and develop innovative solutions to enhance postpartum care. Six states—namely Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico—have committed to participating in this transformative initiative.

During the inaugural meeting, Secretary Becerra highlighted the urgent need to support individuals navigating postpartum challenges and reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to addressing maternal mortality. Participants engaged in insightful discussions, sharing their states’ initiatives and grappling with the complex drivers contributing to the maternal health crisis.

According to the press release, “States expanding postpartum care are especially crucial in light of the release of maternal mortality rates, which show that, in 2021, 1,205 women died of maternal causes in the United States.” Additionally, data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees reveal that nearly one in three pregnancy-related deaths occurred between six weeks and one year after childbirth—a critical period requiring comprehensive postpartum care.

This new collaborative represents a significant step forward in HHS’s broader efforts to improve maternal and postpartum health. Aligned with the 2022 White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, these initiatives reflect a comprehensive approach to combating maternal mortality and enhancing maternal and infant health, particularly in underserved communities.