As a family-focused state, maternal health should be front and center for all Utahns. Yet not everyone has access to high quality maternal health care. Nearly a quarter of all childbirths in the state of Utah are covered by Medicaid while SB133 Modifications to Medicaid Coverage passed by the Utah Legislature in the 2023 general session extends health care coverage beyond the previous standard of 60 days to 12 months of coverage. Thanks to SB133, many new moms in Utah will now have adequate postpartum coverage that matches the coverage their children are eligible for.
Unfortunately, inequities remain in maternal healthcare. National data show that around one in eight maternal deaths occur between six weeks and 12 months. Specifically, among indigenous Utah women, the death rate was around quadruple the national rate for American Indian and Alaskan Native patients. This is around 10 times the maternal mortality rate for white Utahns. Women who identify as Black and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander face the highest severe maternal mortality rate (145.7 and 204.5 per 10,000 pregnancy–associated hospitalizations, respectively) compared to Utah women overall (115.0 per 10,000 pregnancy–associated hospitalizations).
Abortion restrictions are currently being debated, which could increase the number of births in Utah. Maternal health will become even more crucial if these numbers are going to increase on all fronts. Maternal health care needs to be continuously improved, especially across race/ethnicity and socioeconomic barriers because of the drastic difference in white vs. non-white maternal deaths.