Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs executive order to address maternal health crisis


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In a significant move aimed at tackling the state’s alarming maternal mortality rates, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order on Wednesday morning. Arkansas, known for having the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, has faced criticism for its lack of comprehensive post-natal Medicaid coverage. Critics have pointed to this shortfall as a contributing factor to the state’s maternal health crisis.

Governor Sanders, during a news conference, addressed these concerns by announcing the creation of the Arkansas Strategic Committee for Maternal Health. This initiative marks a pivotal step toward enhancing the education and healthcare accessibility for women across the state. The committee will involve key figures from several state agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, and the office of the Arkansas Surgeon General, showcasing a unified approach to improving maternal health outcomes.

The executive order introduces a comprehensive strategy that includes enrolling pregnant and postpartum women in available healthcare programs and launching an advertising and education campaign. This campaign aims to not only promote existing health resources but also to identify and implement improvements in maternal healthcare services.

Department of Human Services Secretary Kristi Putnam highlighted the current state policy, which offers 60 days of postpartum coverage to pregnant women. The state’s focus, according to Putnam, will be on increasing awareness about these benefits before the coverage period expires, rather than extending the postpartum coverage duration.

Additionally, the executive order sets in motion a targeted program to improve prenatal care in specific areas identified for their low rates of such care, including Phillips, Crittenden, Scott, Garland, and Polk Counties. Officials from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Surgeon General’s office are set to engage with these communities, discussing ways to enhance local maternal health resources and services.

Governor Sanders expressed her commitment to this cause, stating that the committee will provide updates on the progress made in addressing Arkansas’s maternal mortality rates. This initiative represents a hopeful step forward in the ongoing effort to safeguard the health of mothers across the state.


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