The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin displaying the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation icon on CMS’s Care Compare online tool. CMS created the new designation to identify hospitals and health systems that participate in a statewide or national perinatal quality improvement collaborative program and that implement evidence-based care to improve maternal health. The public can use the Care Compare tool — along with a complementary interactive map — to find a hospital or health system with the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation in their area. Today’s action is one of many key efforts being implemented as part of the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis and is part of Vice President Harris’ nationwide call to action to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. It also meets a milestone in the CMS Maternity Care Action Plan.
“Today’s launch of the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation is another important step to increase and further ensure access to high-quality maternity care,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “America’s maternal mortality rates are the highest in the developed world, and in response, President Biden and I have made it a key priority to address this crisis by directing government agencies to come up with deliberate and actionable plans. We will always remain committed to supporting the health and well-being of all women, their families, and communities across the nation.”
“Tackling the maternal health crisis is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. We are doing everything in our power to help pregnant and postpartum people find high-quality maternity care. The hospitals and health systems that are designated as ‘Birthing-Friendly’ are an important tool for consumers in their search for first rate care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We will continue to take action to further advance maternity care quality, safety, and equity.”
“It’s important to center CMS’ work in actions that are results-driven and empower the people we serve. The ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation is part of our ongoing efforts to improve maternal health in the U.S.,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “By highlighting hospitals and health systems demonstrating a strong commitment to maternity care quality, the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation is one powerful example of how we are centering health equity in everything we do. As maternal health inequities persist across the nation, the designation offers a tangible marker of the evidence-based practices that hospitals and health systems can pursue to close these gaps and ultimately provide the kind of care all expectant parents deserve.”
Eighty percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, and Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people have the highest rates of pregnancy-related death. Pregnant and postpartum people from some racial and ethnic minority groups are also more likely to have negative health care experiences during pregnancy and delivery that impact the quality of care they receive and health outcomes. The ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation is a step towards ensuring that all pregnant and post-partum people can find high-quality maternity care.
Last December, CMS hosted the agency’s first-ever Maternal Care Health Convening with government and industry leaders, where more than two dozen health plans committed to using the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation on their consumer websites, collectively reaching over 150 million people.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions CMS has pursued to further advance maternity care quality, safety, and equity. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized maternal health, including by urging all states, Washington, D.C., and all U.S. territories to offer pregnant people and their families the relief of continuous postpartum coverage. Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021, which allows states to provide continuous Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for an entire year after pregnancy, CMS has approved Medicaid postpartum coverage extensions in 39 states plus Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands.
Visit Medicare.gov/care-compare to see hospitals with the ‘Birthing-Friendly’ designation.