Dem lawmakers and advocates are touting Gov. Tony Evers’ $28 million plan to boost funding for women’s and infants’ health care as a way to help address racial disparities in maternal care.
And they called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to support the language and address the broader issue with urgency, highlighting statistics about infant and maternal mortality rates.
The guv’s “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiative aims to: expand access to preventative care, such as cancer screenings; support healthier pregnancies; reduce infant mortality rates; and address racial disparities in maternal health care and child care. The Department of Health Services would also be directed to create an infant mortality prevention program.
Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness Executive Director Lisa Peyton Caire said the plan “makes unprecedented investments” that would reduce health care disparities, particularly in infant mortality and especially in the state’s “highest-need zip codes.”
“If passed, (the proposal) will begin the work of disrupting disparities, disrupting the tide of racial disparities that have been a part of our history, unfortunately, for far too long,” she said.
A 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found Wisconsin had the highest infant mortality rate in the nation for African-American children born in the state. Specifically, the findings showed between 2013 and 2015, Wisconsin’s mortality rate for African-American infants was 14.3 per 1,000 live births.
That rate is nearly three times that of white children born in the state, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, applauded Evers for being willing to make these “needed investments” in women’s health care.
“It should not be partisan, but we have really been waging a battle here for last eight years to make sure that women’s health is invested in,” she said.
Republicans and anti-abortion groups have taken issue with a part of the plan that would again make Planned Parenthood eligible to again receive federal Title V and Title X funds.
Changes to state law were made in the 2011-13 biennial budget that blocked Planned Parenthood from accessing Title V state and federal block grant funding for maternal and child health. And a bill from 2015 restricted the organization from receiving Title X federal funding for family planning services.
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