Governor Hochul Unveils Third Proposal of 2024 State of the State: Taking on the Maternal and Infant Mortality Crisis

New Oversight Mechanisms to Avoid Unnecessary C-Sections

Cesarean births (or C-Sections) should be utilized only when the procedure is determined to be the best approach for the mother or the baby. However, some doctors perform these surgeries more frequently than clinical best practices recommend. While this can be for a variety of reasons, one factor is that it is often more profitable to perform a C-section, even when doing so is not necessary for the patient.

To address this critical issue, Governor Hochul has directed the Department of Health to launch new initiatives to reduce the rate of unnecessary C-sections. This will include new oversight measures to identify physicians whose behavior is out of line with clinical best practices, allowing the Department of Health to hold providers – including those overutilizing C-sections – accountable. It also includes a new Medicaid financial incentives for hospitals to reduce the number of unnecessary C-sections.

Address Maternal Mental Health And Post-Partum Depression

According to CDC data, approximately one in five pregnancy-related deaths (23 percent) are due to mental health conditions, and approximately one in eight women who have recently given birth experience postpartum depression. Maternal mental health conditions rank among the leading causes of maternal mortality in New York.

New York will train counselors answering the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline on issues related to maternal mental health, postpartum depression, and anxiety. This specialized training will ensure counselors will provide the compassionate care, support, and resources necessary to help mothers and birthing parents experiencing mental health distress. Starting in 2022, Governor Hochul helped successfully implement the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline — formerly called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — throughout the state.

In addition, Project TEACH’s Maternal Mental Health initiative will expand to include support for additional patient-facing professions, such as therapists, lactation consultants, WIC staff, home visiting nurses, and other frontline practitioners so they may receive specialized training and access expert consultation to provide mental health support to the pregnant and postpartum New Yorkers they assist. This initiative is part of an existing training resource aimed at increasing treatment efficacy among prescribers, including general psychiatrists, primary care doctors, nurse practitioners, OB-GYNs, and others who may lack adequate maternal mental health expertise.

Reducing The Risk Of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID)

Unsafe sleep deaths are the most common type of preventable child fatalities that come to the attention of state officials. Each week, roughly two infants die in an unsafe sleep setting, resulting in more than 120 infant deaths per year. Sometimes this is due to a lack of access to safety-approved cribs, particularly for low-income families.

Since safe sleep environments are crucial for reducing the risk of sleep-related deaths, Governor Hochul will provide funding for the distribution of portable cribs for under resourced New Yorkers at no cost. The cribs would be available to families via local county departments of social services and other local organizations. Medical professionals at birthing hospitals will also facilitate referrals where a need for a crib is identified.