September 29, 2022 2:22 pm

Local News

Report: Georgia Needs to Step Up for Women, Babies

Credit: iStock

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

While abortion care is in the headlines, a new report says accessing other health-care services is a challenge for many women in Georgia.

Data from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows one-in-five Georgia women of reproductive age lacks health care coverage. Executive Director Joan Alker said that’s one of the highest rates in the country and region.

“Women need to be covered before, during and after their pregnancy,” said Alker, “to ensure that some of their chronic health conditions – like high blood pressure or depression or diabetes – are under control before they come pregnant and remain under control after they have a baby.”

The report also raises the alarm about the state’s trajectory when it comes to health outcomes for moms and babies.

Georgia’s maternal mortality rate of 24.5 is slightly greater than national average, which Alker noted is very high. And infant mortality also presents similarly.

Alker added that there are notable disparities in health outcomes for women of reproductive age.

“Black women, Latina women, and multi-racial women are seeing bigger problems,” said Alker. “Higher rates of being uninsured and greater incidents, unfortunately, of maternal and infant mortality.”

Nearly half of Hispanic or Latina women of reproductive age are uninsured in Georgia, and Black babies die at higher rates than white babies.

Alker said the most important thing Georgia can to do protect the health of women and babies would be to expand the Medicaid program.

“They’d have access to the care they need, they would have the financial protection from large medical bills,” said Alker. “If Georgia wants its families to thrive, they just simply cannot be exposing these women to economic and medical peril by leaving them uninsured.”

Georgia is among a dozen states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Disclosure: Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story was written by Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, an Ohio-based journalist, where this story first appeared.