Speech makes bold recognition of racial disparities in outcomes
The annual State of the State address to the Michigan legislature predictably offered a proposal to “fix the damned roads”, the Governor’s central campaign promise, but it also addressed issues of healthcare and confronted the impact of racism on health outcomes. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on bipartisan support for proposals winding their way through the legislature. She also announced studies to address prescription drug costs and postpartum care.
As the Affordable Care Act faces challenges in the federal courts, Gov. Whitmer says Representatives Kuppa, Hoadley and Koleszar are sponsoring legislation in the Healthy MI package of bills to protect residents with pre-existing conditions. “... we need the support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” said Whitmer. “I urge the lawmakers here tonight to think about your constituents. Think about any woman who has given birth, any child with asthma, or anyone with a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.”
Gov. Whitmer also announced the creation of a healthcare task force to look at ways to keep down the prices of prescription drugs and ensure that every woman in the state can have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. “If you can’t afford to fill a prescription, you could wind up in the ER ...or worse,” said Whitmer.
Moreover, Gov. Whitmer’s proposed budget would extend health coverage for low-income women who have had babies, extend postpartum care from 60 days to one full year and expand access to home visiting programs. She also promised to make an intensive effort to eliminate the disparities in care for new moms of color. Currently, black women are three times as likely than white women to die from pregnancy related causes. “This is a staggering disparity. So I’m working with Michigan’s medical community to address it,” said Whitmer.
Her administration will work with medical universities to incorporate implicit bias training into their curriculum. “We need our medical professionals and our future doctors and nurses to be aware of bias and root it out so we can promote equity in outcomes for every mom and every baby,” said Whitmer.